There are luminaries that grace us with their presence every now and then, like shooting stars across the sky: They enlighten us with their sheer spectacle. They thrill us with their wattage. They inspire us with their power.
Then there are double dosages.
We are living in an unprecedented time in history, when families are producing equally talented siblings who are pushing each other – and all of us – to excellence. These sister acts prove that two are indeed better than one.
Tia and Tamera Mowry
Perhaps the most recognizable identical twins on television, Tia Dashon and Tamera Darvette Mowry got their big break in a Doublemint chewing gum commercial. The girls, born to an African-American mother and Italian-American father, were cast as reunited siblings in the TV sitcom “Sister Sister,” which featured cast members Jackee’ Harry, Tim Reid and Marques Houston.
Military brats, the Mowry girls entered pageants and competitions starting at age 12 when their family was stationed in Texas. Both parents entered the military and reached the rank of sergeant before settling in California. The girls’ younger brother Tahj is also an actor, best known for his appearance in TV sitcoms “The Smart Guy,” and “Full House.”
While Tia got a coveted role in the popular sitcom, “The Game,” enjoying a strong four-year run on the CW before being cancelled earlier this year, Tamera was cast this year in the ABC family series “Roommates,” which was cancelled shortly after its debut.
The CW had great expectations for Tia’s part in “The Game,” as the show was a spinoff to the hastily cancelled “Girlfriends” sitcom (Tia’s character Melanie is first cousin to Joan of “Girlfriends“). Ratings started off great, but the show lost support in the boardrooms, according to the show’s creator Mara Brock Akil.
After a six-year courtship, Tia married Corey Hardrict in a lavish ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort in Santa Barbara last year. Look for Tamera on Clutch very soon!
Tia and Tamera in 1998 Doublemint chewing gum commercial
Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad
When it comes to sisters few are as accomplished as Deborrah kaye “Debbie” and Phylicia Rashad. The siblings, who hail from Houston, Texas, perhaps come from the most accomplished parents on our list.
Father Andrew Arthur Allen, practiced as a dentist and orthodontist while mother Vivian Ayers was a poet, playwright, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated artist.
Debbie’s star rose quickly in the late 1970s in the theater, culminating in her acclaimed role and performance in “Fame”. She won a Tony Award in 1980 for her performance in “West Side Story” as Anita. Unbeknownst to many fans, Phylicia actually hit the big time before Debbie, shining under the radar in 1978 with the release of a disco album, “Josephine Superstar,” a homage to Josephine Baker.
In the early 1980s, as her sister became the figurehead for “Fame,” Phylicia was in line to play Deena in the stage play “Dreamgirls,” before she was passed over.
She landed a role on the soap opera, “One Life to Live,” before being cast as Bill Cosby’s attorney wife, Clair Huxtable in “The Cosby Show” in 1984.
The show, which featured an upper-middle class black family living in a Brooklyn brownstone, transformed the popular image of the African-American family and was the biggest sitcom on network television in the 1980s.
Today Debbie is still involved in American dance, including serving on the President’s Committee for Arts and Humanities.
Phylicia has returned to the stage, performing in “A Raisin in the Sun,” and “Cat in a Hot Tin Roof,” in recent years.
Check out Phylicia Rashad, the singer, in the late 1970s
Beyonce and Solange
When it comes to sister acts, the Houston-born tandem of Beyonce Giselle and Solange Piaget Knowles have both been entertaining since they were children. Parents Matthew and Tina Knowles famously ushered the girls into dancing and singing competitions around the Houston area in the late 1980s and early 1990s, honing the girls for the big time. The big time came in 1998 when the Beyonce-led Destiny’s Child released the song “No, No, No,” followed by the smash album “The Writing’s On the Wall” in 1999.
Striking out on her own after squabbles within the girls group, Beyonce has gone on to change the face of music in the last 10 years. She is arguably the biggest female recording artist in the world.
But while Beyonce has had a one-track mind relating to career success, sister Solange took time away from music to give birth to son Juelz in 2004. While not the A-list talent that her sister is, Solange has managed to build a solid career in entertainment, first as a perennial backup to Destiny’s Child and then as a solo artist with two albums to date.
Today Beyonce continues to rule the pop charts, recently marrying rap star Jay-Z. Solange continues to write music and perform in support of her latest album “SoL-AngeL & the Hadley Street Dreams.”
Beyonce and Solange in “Get Me Bodied”
Venus and Serena
One moves like a gazelle, with ease on the court, just as graceful on grass or clay.
What the other lacks in finesse, she makes up in muscular brawn and pure force.
They are Venus Ebony Starr and Serena Jameka, a sister act like no other in the tennis world.
Way before the million-dollar prizes and sequin-and-lace shorts, they were simply two daughters of a struggling family in Saginaw, Michigan.
It is fabled that Richard Williams in the early 1980s saw an adolescent tennis player receiving a $30,000 check on television and vowed that he would make a tennis star out of one of his baby girls.
He made two.
Venus and Serena both joined women’s tennis in 1994, but were well known in the black tennis world, having nurtured their games on the tough and rumble streets of Compton, California, and then West Palm Beach, Florida.
The two youngest of five girls, the Williams sisters were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses and homeschooled. Their father, Richard Williams, was known as a boisterous cheerleader for the girls, returning insults and percieved slights that he said he recieved at the hands of parents of white players.
Venus Williams has won 18 Grand Slam titles on her way to 58 championships.
Her one-year-younger sister Serena has won 21 Grand Slams. Both sisters are considered among the top five women tennis players in the world.
Away from tennis, Venus is an accomplished fashion designer, under her “V Starr Interiors” brand, which she runs from Jupiter, Florida. The company’s credits include the set of “The Tavis Smiley Show.”
Serena, who has been linked to rapper Common, also has a flair for fashion, designing many of her tournament outfits, to the dismay of tennis commentators.
Venus vs. Serena 2009