Monica Potter, who most recently played Kristina Braverman for six seasons on NBC's Parenthood, is back on TV with a new home remodeling series, Welcome Back Potter, on HGTV. And like Parenthood, there are plenty of tears -- both happy and sad -- as Potter and her three sisters, Jessica, Brigette and Kerry, renovate their childhood home, which is back in the family after 30 years.
Built in 1924 and later sold in 1987, the Cleveland, Ohio house was purchased back by Potter. In the premiere, which aired on Tuesday, Oct. 11, memories of growing up there came rushing back when the actress, her sisters and their mom, Nancy, re-entered the house for the first time to discover that little had changed since they left it. Everything from the old wallpaper to furniture they had left behind was still there.
In a moment seemingly right out of NBC's beloved scripted series, one of the things found was the family's dining room table. Believed to be one of her mother's lost treasures, Potter is adamant that it be restored and returned to the house, only to find out that her mother didn't like it. "I left it here because I hated it," Nancy says, revealing that girls' late father, who died in 2014, made up a story about why it got left behind.
"Welcome Back Potter is like an extension of Parenthood. You get to see my real family now," Potter tells ET by phone from her L.A. home, adding: "It was an emotional roller coaster and journey, and we really went to the depths of our relationship and actually became much closer.
"There were fights every day. There was laughter every day. There were tears every day. It was just surprising because at any given time, one of us was going through the emotion of something," she says of filming, which took place over three months. "We were all there to lift each other up when we were feeling off because we haven't been in the house for so long. We didn't know what to expect."
Unlike most other vanity projects, what fans see on Welcome Back Potter is grounded. There's no fanfare, despite Potter's two decades onscreen. "I don't look at myself as a celebrity or anything like that," Potter says, adding that her series is rooted in the emotional connection of her family and the community in which she grew up and is still very much a part of today, thanks to her lifestyle brand, Monica Potter Home. (The company is very much inspired by her parents and works with local artisans to celebrate her hometown.)
"It's a different kind of a show for HGTV," she says of working with the network to produce the series. "I just said that it's really important to me that the heart and the city of Cleveland and our community are front and center."
While her return to TV is unscripted, Potter still has an interest in acting. "I've been reading scripts … I'm just trying to find the right show," she says, admitting that her "focus has been on the business and producing" her new HGTV project. Of course, she's well aware of NBC's new series This Is Us, which, like Parenthood, offers fans a good cry week to week. "I would love to go back to work on a show like This Is Us, something with heart that resonates with people."
For now, Parenthood fans have Welcome Back Potter, which coincidentally happens to air Tuesdays at 11 p.m. ET on HGTV, right after This Is Us.