From teen queen to sexy starlet, Tia Mowry is all grown up and turning heads. As one of the stars of the CWs breakout hit, The Game, she’s juggling her hectic schedule as an “it” girl, planning a wedding and sharing producer credits on an upcoming project with twin sister, Tamera. Clutch caught up with her to dish about her newfound love of cooking, fashion and why you can expect to see much more of our Sunday night favorite.
CM: You’ve been in showbiz since you were a kid. How did you get your start?
TM: We came from Texas, my sister and I, and we went from modeling to TV to commercials. We told our mom, “We want to be on TV. Big TV, you know, go to LA!” My mom was in the military and it’s not easy to just quit the military and take your kids to California just because they want to act. So basically what we did, we went out to LA for two months and my mom said that if we end up booking a job within those two months, she’d find some way to get us out here. We ended up booking for a commercial. Once we had moved out here it was probably about three years of just hustling and going out on auditions. We eventually ran into a lady by the name of Irene Dreayer, and she basically discovered us. She had us meet with Suzanne de Passe, who basically discovered the Jacksons Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five and was part of that whole Motown movement. From then on she said, You guys are very talented. I would love to create a show around you.” So we met up with this one writer, and he had written us a draft of the show, and it used to be called Double Dutch instead of Sister Sister. We went to all different types of networks, and my sister and I would just talk in these audition rooms. There were these huge execs in the rooms and we were just 13 or 14 at the time. And we would just talk to them, be our normal selves. And that’s how we ended up getting discovered. They said, Oh my God, we love you. We’d love to create a show around you girls,” and it started out on ABC.
CM: Your mother was your manager for years. Is she still pretty involved with business side of things?
TM: Yes she is. She’s still managing my sister, my brother and myself.
CM: In between acting and after your show, Sister Sister, you took some time off to attend Pepperdine University. Was it difficult to make that transition from full-time actor to college student?
TM: You know what? At first it wasn’t necessarily difficult, and the only reason why I say that is because we had a studio teacher who taught us everything we needed to know to make that transition to college. My sister and I were actually working at the same time while attending Pepperdine. Still to this day when I look at the papers I had written, I think, “How in the world did I do this while working at the same time? But, what was difficult was the students embodying my sister and I. Treating us like, you know, normal people. We used to joke and say, Should we wear a sign on us saying “You can talk to me, or you can sit next to me!” It was funny how whenever we would be in the classroom, the kids wouldn’t sit next to us. I don’t know if they were shy or what. And a lot of them watched the show and were fans of the show. But that was the difficult part of going to college.
CM: We know that you’re engaged to actor Cory Hardrict (Lincoln Heights, Heroes). Congrats! How are the wedding plans coming along?
TM: Thank you! Oh my gosh, they are coming along very well. It’s overwhelming because I’ve been working at the same time. The show is not necessarily like a comedy. Our scheduling days are like a comedy, where we work from Monday through Friday, but the way we shoot it is like a drama. We work really, really long hours within a short period. Usually dramas get four days per episode, but we get five days per episode, but we’re shooting it as a drama. It’s a lot of work when you’re planning a wedding at the same time . . . and I don’t have an assistant. I really refuse to get one! I have always had the thought of, “If you want something done right, you sometimes have to do it yourself.” Who knows, when I have kids I might need an assistant. But right now, I definitely want to do all of that stuff on my own. It’s been a little overwhelming, but definitely rewarding at the same time.
CM: You and your sister managed to stay out of the tabloids and have lived a very normal life. You always come across so personable and down to earth. Where does that come from?
TM: I would definitely have to say staying grounded came from my family; how my mom has taught my sister and I values, morals and respect. But as a teenager we would never go to parties. My mom would always tell us, “Honey, this is a job.” When we were working on the show and getting into limos she’d say, “This isn’t going to be happening all the time, girls.” It was like she was always preparing us for what I think happens to a lot of kids, who once they stop working they don’t know who they are and they’re trying to find their identity in this business. If you don’t know who you are or you’re looking to find yourself in this business, then you’re heading down the wrong path. This business is a dog eat dog world, and you can go down the wrong path easily. When you’re young and you’re making all that money, you’re bored and you feel like you need to do drugs and drink and have a good time. I remember when we would go to college parties, sometimes people would think we were drunk because my sister and I were having such a great time, but we’d never even had a glass! But, I think it’s because we were taught to really enjoy ourselves without all of that. God is huge in our lives; the church is huge in our lives and we know we have someone else to answer to. Not only to our parents or to our mom, but we have to answer to God. The Bible and its principles teach you how to respect yourselves and respect others. With that said, that’s how my sister and I stay grounded. And keeping friends around you who know you for you and aren’t “yes” people. In this business, a lot of people want to hang around you because you can get into parties for free and you can get a lot of stuff for free. I have friends that will be like, “Tia, what are you doing? You are getting too consumed in your work. Go home, just relax and just be normal.”
CM: We are big, big fans of The Game. How were you approached about working with the show?
TM: The thing is I wasn’t necessarily approached. I heard about the project, I read the script and fell in love with it. I could relate to the character and really felt I could portray her, so I wanted to go out for it. I had my agent get in contact with the casting director and the casting director wouldn’t see me. So it was a struggle. Mara (Brock Akil), the creator, she writes from a very realistic standpoint. And a lot of people had just seen me from Sister Sister. Those story lines were just about going out to the movies and hanging out with your best friend. It was a family show and Mara doesn’t necessarily write for kids! She didn’t know if I could take on this role and take on some of the story lines that she was going to be writing. So when I went in there I really, really had to work hard and had to let her know that I’m not that little girl anymore. [Let her know] that I am a woman now and I can relate to these woman issues that she writes about.
CM: I have to admit, when the pilot aired during the Girlfriends episode, I didn’t know if I would follow. But, you all have won me over. It’s such a fresh and original concept. The writing is smart and funny, and the characters are so believable. It’s a great show and you guys should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
TM: Aww, thank you! Because we really, really, really work hard. A lot of times we learn from these characters, ourselves. Especially Melanie. Her man cheated on her because she was constantly ignoring him. Her studies became more important than trying to work it out. So all of us girls are like, “Oh, God!” The stuff that she writes about—and wait until you see these upcoming episodes, they are unbelievable; there’s a huge surprise that’s coming up and I’m not going to tell you, but you’re going to be shocked—it’s so real! You know what I mean? It’s insanely real that we actually learn from these characters and apply it to our real lives.
CM: So I take it there is no truth to the cancellation/hiatus rumors?
TM: You know what’s really difficult is when you do hear about these rumors . . . we do want the fans to watch. That’s the most important thing . . . that we have the ratings. But the thing is, when I hear people say, “We heard that the show is canceled, so I’m not going to watch it to the rest of the season,” that’s not good. We don’t like that! Because that’s surely going to get us canceled if people stop watching the show. I mean, the show right now is the number one comedy on the network. There’s no sign of it canceling or being canceled from what we know. There’s no indication from what we know. But, the show has not initially gotten picked up for next season, for as, six CW shows have. But that does not mean that we have been canceled. The Pussycat Dolls haven’t gotten picked up yet, Beauty and the Geek hasn’t gotten picked up yet; Aliens in America. There are a lot of shows that have not gotten picked up yet, but that doesn’t mean they’re canceled. They picked up Everybody Hates Chris, but that’s because they got syndication deals. When they picked them up it was for advertising purposes; you know, to get advertisers on it. But that doesn’t mean that our show is canceled. Our show has not been canceled! We’ve received nine episodes to shoot out. We’ve shot four already and going into our fifth. We have an amazing one-hour season finally, again, and we’re shooting a two-parter this week. So there are some great story lines coming up!
CM: We love Melanie’s style. Does Stacy Beverly (Costume Designer, Girlfriends) style for The Game as well?
TM: She does. She is amazing! I never used to wear dresses before; I’m more of a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers kind of girl. Which is ironic. But, she’s taught me what looks great on my body. Never had I thought about wearing a leather jacket or these cute dresses that she puts me in. Everybody that works on the show—and I’m not just saying this because I have been on projects where people don’t put one hundred percent into it—but everybody from every department enjoys their job and puts one hundred percent into it.
CM: So compared to your personal style, how would you describe Melanie’s personal style?
TM: I would say . . . and that’s a good question. It’s kind of ironic that you would ask that. Melanie’s style is changing now. In the first season Melanie never wore makeup. If you look at it, Mara made a point to never have me in eyelashes, she didn’t want to make me glamorous. She wanted it to be realistic that this was a girl [who was] new to this football world. She was wearing very casual kinds of clothes. But, when second season came around and after Derwin (actor Pooch Hall) cheated on her, almost like what every girl does, she stepped up her game. So like, “If you’re going to cheat on me, I’m going to start looking really good.” Now, I would say Melanie’s style is definitely starting to become very sexy. She’s a fan of very sexy chic. Skinny leg jeans; really cute dresses; and she’s starting to wear high heels now. She’s starting to show more skin. Before it was more of that comfortable chic, not the sexy chic.
CM: Melanie has been through her share of ups and downs? Will things turn out ok for her and Derwin or will she start something with this marketing exec?
TM: Well, let me just tell you this. You will see a lot more of the marketing exec. She’s starting to move on . . . let’s just say that. Well, let me take that back . . . she’s trying to move on with the marketing exec, Jerome.
CM: So what about medical school?
TM: I think Mara is really trying to concentrate on the relationship aspect of what’s going on in her life more than her studies. Everyone seems to want to know what’s going on in her love life. What it seems like to me is that she’s really just trying to move on with Derwin and see other guys. He’s dating other people and she’s dating other people. We’ll just have to see what happens!
CM: Just like your character, you are always so glamorous and chic and we’re seeing you a lot more on the red carpet. Are you starting to dabble more into the world of fashion?
TM: I must say I am. And it’s because of Stacy. I’ve never been that girl. You know, the one who has to make sure she looks good from head to toe. But, I’m really enjoying Melanie and starting to take a little bit from her in real life. I really enjoy trying on clothes, walking the red carpet, wearing makeup—to me it’s like playing dress up. Because at home, seriously, I’m that sneakers/jeans/Uggs casual type of girl. But when you have the opportunity to go out and really look your best, that’s when it becomes fun. It’s always cool to play dress up, wear designer clothes and all the stuff. It’s fun to me!
CM: I think it’s nice when you have your own sense of style, of course. But to have someone style you and find things that work best for you has to be great!
TM: Well, yeah! I never, ever, was able to do that. My sister on the other hand, she is not someone who needs a stylist. She could just go in a store and pick out something fabulous. She’s such a girly girl, whereas me, I have no idea. And it’s definitely beneficial to have someone help you with that
CM: So what are some things that you must have on you at all times?
TM: My cell phone. Oh my goodness, when I do not have my cell phone, it’s like the world has ended! I do everything myself; everything comes through my phone. Every email, every call, stuff for the wedding and for work. I have the Blackberry Pearl. It’s small, so I can put it in my pocket and just go.
Lip gloss. My favorite is Stila Lip Glaze, and my favorite color is called banana. And basically, it’s the color of my natural lips. It tastes good and it smells good. I absolutely love it.
The third thing I have to have on me at all time is water . . . no wait, I take that back! It’s tea. I’m always drinking tea, all the time. Wendy Raquel Robinson from the show had gotten me a gift for my bridal shower. She had given me all the things that she sees that I love, and had given me a Starbucks card. I always have to have a Chai Tea Latte or a Chai Latte in my hands. That’s my little energy booster for the day.
CM: What music are you listening to or what TV shows are you watching?
TM: I am a huge reality junkie. On my TiVo right now I have American Idol, Make Me a Supermodel, and America’s Next Top Model. But, my newfound love is cooking and I absolutely love watching the shows. What I’ll do is, on the Food Network I’ll watch Everyday Italian with Giada (de Laurentiis) or Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten), and I will watch them cook and then I’ll go to the grocery store and cook that same meal. I’ll have Cory come over and we’ll have this great dinner and just eat. That’s what I spend most of my time doing—watching reality shows and cooking.
CM: We are definitely excited to see what else is in store for you in the future. What can we look forward to?
TM: In the future, I would definitely love, um, to dabble into feature films. Being on the show with someone as wonderfully creative as Mara, she’s always challenging me, always pushing me. And for some reason, it becomes like a high. I really enjoy being challenged. In film you’re given that opportunity. I’ve been doing comedy all my life, but I’ve been blessed to be on a show that’s dramedy. It’s not a slapstick comedy. So we do dabble into it a little bit. I want to definitely break out into feature films and have my own production company. And speaking of that, my sister and I we’re working with Lifetime to produce our own movie that’s a romantic comedy. We don’t have a name yet, but we do have a script. Then, you know, I want to have kids one day. I definitely want to be pregnant and have a child, maybe four or five years from now. When I tell Cory that he’s like, “What? We have to wait four years?!’ But who knows. And let’s see . . . doing more episodes of The Game. I want to thank all the fans. I really do appreciate and respect them. I thank them for watching the show. It’s only going to get better.
Catch The Game at it’s new time Sunday, 9:00 EST/8:00 CST on the CW.