During the mid-1990’s, with The Cosby Show being long extinct, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air just ending and Martin in its declining phases, there was a network that would spring forth a series of compelling African-American sitcoms. The WB was that network, and it was formed to establish itself in a floundering sitcom market. The WB’s three first original sitcoms included: The Wayans Brothers, which showcased the free-flowing talent of youngest Wayan siblings; Sister, Sister, which had the viewers seeing double; and the Parent’ Hood, the Robert Townsend produced Cosby-like remake.
Robert Townsend brought in a young actress, an actress who was largely unknown to the world, to play his daughter on the show. Zaria Peterson arrived on the scene as a teenager, captivating teens unlike any other leading female teen in television at the time. Laura Winslow was too pushy. Tia and Tamera were too perky. Zaria Peterson was a healthy mix of the two, and had the looks to boot. Well, time goes on and television shows end, but characters live on. Whenever she is sighted, people see the same wholesome teenager portrayed in Townsend’s creation. That’s a familiar dilemma for many actors of hit shows: many never seem to relive greater glory after a successful adolescent run. When T.I.’s video, “Whatever You Like,” aired last month, there was a collective chant of “that’s Zaria Peterson from the Parent’ Hood!”
But Zaria Peterson, she is no more. Reagan Preston-Gomez is a grown woman now. She has the husband, a child and the dogs to prove it.
“Yes, to this day, I get recognized for that role more than any other,” Gomez said. “Obviously that’s the role that lasted the longest. And because I’m always changing my hair color, people always assume that’s the only job I’ve ever had.”
It isn’t the only job that she has ever had. She has starred in Love, Inc. opposite Holly Robinson Peete. She’s had roles in Jerry Maguire, Love Don’t Cost A Thing, Carmen and Never Die Alone. She also completed a few independent projects as well, including one with Wood Harris and Preston Whitmore earlier this year. Aside from her appearance next to T.I., she’s featured in this month’s King Magazine, placing herself at the center of men’s attention in quite a different way than she did 13 years ago. She was once capturing teenagers hearts; now she’s stirring grown men’s fantasies.
She insists that she isn’t that interesting and that her true passion is writing. Alongside her scintillating pictures in King, she also penned an article delineating the tasks at hand in voting for Barack Obama. Holding down a household of five (two pit bulls included), she lives a life seemingly devoid of all the Hollywood clutter.
“I’m happy and healthy and so is my family and that’s all that matters,” she says.
Any gripes about Hollywood?
“I wouldn’t change anything,” she said. “I would just want more sisters to be inspired to get behind the camera.”
These days her roles include that of acting, writing, and child rearing; not to mention tending to her husband of nine years, DeWayne Turrentine, whom she wedded the year of her last season on the Parent’ Hood. Keeping her marriage away from the public eye hasn’t been that hard either.
“To be honest, people don’t really care!” Gomez exclaimed. “It’s not like we’re hiding it, people just aren’t that interested. I’d rather read about Jay and Beyonce!”
For more on Reagan Preston-Gomez visit www.myspace.com/reagan_gomez.