Mo to the….E to the…
When Moesha arrived on our TV screens on January 23, 1996, young Black women knew they were tuning into something special. It was a celebration of Black women coming of age and sisterhood that instantly found a place in our hearts. Little did its cast know, it would become a cultural phenomenon. Countess Vaughn played Kimberly Parker, Moesha’s ride-or-die best friend. Though she would leave the show during season 4 (before its six season run ended), the memory of besties Kim, Niecy (Shar Jackson), and Moesha (Brandy) is forever etched in our minds. Sidenote: What happened to sitcoms and TV shows about Black girlfriends? We miss them. Countess, now starring in TVOne’s Hollywood Divas, walked ESSENCE down memory lane. These are her words.
When Moesha the Show Finally Became a Reality
We had shot a pilot for Moesha and it only got picked up a year later. It had been put on the back burner for so long so the first day on set was really like, ‘Wow! We’re really going to go forward with this project.’ I just didn’t know anything was going to happen with it until it happened, and then to find out who they cast was wonderful. I remember walking on the set the first day and getting there early because I was so excited. I was really spoiled by all of the positive energy on that set. It was such a calm, nice energy. Sheryl Lee Ralph is a wonderful woman. She always talked about sisterhood on the set when we were young girls; always telling us about the value of getting along and being a role model to all the other little girls. Hats off to Sheryl Lee. She was really there for us.
Growing up Moesha
I was fifteen years old when Moesha premiered. Brandy was around the same age as well, so we were all teenagers. We went to school together and we worked together. We were tutored on set—we were all in the same classroom. We would go to class at the beginning of the day, and if we had fewer scenes, we might go in the evening and finish up whatever we needed to do for that day as far as school. You had to maintain a certain grade in order to stay on the show—the producers made sure of that.
My favorite memories are being on set with Brandy and Shar Jackson. We would always be on the side singing and having our girl time just talking about relationships. I remember when we did this mini tour and went through Dallas, Philly, New York. We felt like the Jacksons because when we would go into the mall kids would just rush us. In fact, I remember Brandy’s bodyguard having to pick me and Brandy up and run through the crowd. Somebody pulled out my braids. We had so many good memories. That’s one of the reason why it gets me so frustrated when I see negative things in the media about us because we were normal teenage girls that had a good time sometimes, argued sometimes and just, you know, we were sisters. It was all love. It was never anything so harsh that we could never be friends, but media often makes it more than what it is. When I posted that note on Brandy’s Instagram page it was to dead all of the drama because every time I’m asked about Moesha they always ask about the arguing, and it really wasn’t like that. I wanted to let everybody know that as women we could stand up for each other, and it’s all love. We’re good. After the post we exchanged phone numbers and said Happy New Year, and that’s about it. I just wanted her to know that it was all love on my end. We’re good.
I still watch the show but sometimes I get a little sad because both Andell (Yvette Wilson) and Hakeem (Lamont Bentley) passed away. I still check in on their families to see how they’re doing. It’s not a process you get over it in a couple of days or in a couple of years. It’s a slow process so I’m always there for support when it comes to anything; them needing to talk or whatever the situation is. You know Merlin Santana did the first episode? [Santana was shot and killed in 2002.]
What were your favorite Moesha memories?