We’ve all got a "crazy roommate" story or two, and Tamera Mowry is reliving them all on her new ABC Family sitcom, “Roommates.” Her own stories involve twin sister Tia Mowry and her greedy boyfriend turned husband Cory. The twins kept us laughing in their hit nineties show “Sister, Sister” before attending college and returning to Hollywood. ESSENCE.com caught up with Tamera to discuss why she is excited to represent the sisters on television, whether she’s feeling the wedding pressure now that Tia has jumped the broom, and how Denzel Washington changed her life.
ESSENCE.COM: Glad to have you back on the small screen. You seem to be the sassy friend on the show. How is it returning to a sitcom?
TAMERA MOWRY: I’m so excited and love playing Hope. I hadn’t shot in front of a live audience in ten years, so I am having all these thoughts of what if I’m not funny, but it’s like riding a bike. Now I’m riding with no hands. She is very protective of people she loves, and I’m the same way with my brother and sister and family. I’m the mothering one. Hope loves boys and she loves fashion and I’ve been boy crazy for years. Period. This character was not originally written asa Black girl, so it’s great to be able to represent for Black women, and for her to be the fashionista!
ESSENCE.COM: Definitely. So what has been your craziest roommate experience in real life?
MOWRY: Tia and I used to live together for six years. Her husband now used to be somewhat of a third roommate. My sister and I used to alternate grocery shopping every week. I used to hate to do it so I would buy a lot so I didn’t have to do it so much. Cory would come over and eat everything and all the cookies and cakes I would bake. I would tell him, "Dude, if you are going to eat like that, you need to be paying rent." (Laughs.)
ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) Your sister got married last year and you two are producing the Lifetime film, “The Wedding.” So are you feeling like it’s your turn to walk down the aisle?
MOWRY: I don’t know if it’s because I turned 30, but I am loving being single right now! I’m dating, but I love the freedom. Earlier I was domestic and Tia was out dating, and now it’s the opposite. I want to get all that out of my system, before I marry. I have a lot of growing to do. When you get married, it’s no joke. I want to be ready. Tia’s always in my face telling me that it’s serious. They dated for nine years and I’m not afraid to make sure it’s right. We are excited to be producing and starring in the romantic comedy “The Wedding” for Lifetime.
ESSENCE.COM: You two also went to college together. How did that experience impact you?
MOWRY: I just recently spoke at the convocation for my [alma mater], Pepperdine, which was amazing. Going to college from “Sister, Sister,” was humbling. Professors didn’t care who you were, just get the work in on time. It was great to experience and something different from action. I partied, I met friends I still have, I had my first love and my first heartbreak. I studied psychology and counseled for four months at a women’s center before I realized you have to have a calling to do that. I realized mine was acting, and comedy is where my heart is. It’s something that uplifts your soul when you laugh and make other people laugh. Laughter is healing, especially during these times with the economy. You need something you can sit back and relate to.
ESSENCE.COM: You were always the funny one on “Sister, Sister.” Did you ever worry you would be typecast afterwards?
MOWRY: I dealt with a lot of that. I couldn’t get into a drama casting room for a while. That’s why I was really happy to do “Strong Medicine” and it helped me break through. Some of the greatest comedic actors are great in drama. Denzel Washington, besides being gorgeous, he was the first actor that moved me. I remember being in seventh grade and watching “Glory.” I knew I wanted be able to move someone that way. That’s when it shifted. We look at movies and shows to be touched.