Life is good for Tamera Mowry-Housley. Work is going strong; The Real, a syndicated multi-racial talk show of which she is co-host, was recently renewed for another season. When she’s not on set, she’s hanging with her two children, daughter Ariah, 22 months, and son Aden, 4, with her FOX correspondent husband, Adam Housley. In addition to their busy life in Los Angeles, the family travels frequently to their home in Napa, where Mowry-Housley’s in-laws run a winery.
Chances are, however, that you knew Mowry-Housley long before her talk show days. She became famous back in the ’90s for starring on the ABC sitcom Sister Sister, alongside her twin sister Tia Mowry. (Rumors of a reunion for the show have been circulating since last fall, but no word yet on whether that will actually happen).
Recently, we caught up with Mowry-Housley to chat about how she deals with backlash over her interracial marriage, whether she’ll have a third baby, what it’s like to live a public life for more than two decades, and more.
MT: Your private life has been a hot topic since the ‘90s. Has that been difficult?
TMH: It was hard, at first. People want clicks to their blogs and social media posts, so they’ll think of ways to spin stories, regardless of what it will do to you or your family. At first I really took it personally. I thought, ‘Why are they doing this to me? I have done nothing wrong.’ Then I realised that I can’t take it personally, because I’m not the only person they do it to. They do it to so many people. If it’s not true then it doesn’t bother me. That was a hard thing to learn, but I have.
MT: People are really critical of your interracial marriage. How do you cope with that?
TMH: I think the criticism is even worse now, with the racial tension that we’re seeing and the political climate. But my husband, who is so great, said, ‘You know what, Tamera? This is just teaching you to focus on the thousands of people that are for you, as opposed to the very few people who are against you.’ He’s right. When we first came out publicly as a couple 12 years ago — I think it was at the Billboard Awards — I remember a few negative comments, such as ‘Never expected her to be with him!’ But I never expected it to reach this degree of criticism as I got older.
MT: Your parents are in an interracial marriage. What advice have they given you?
TMH: Yes, my dad is white and my mum is black. I wasn’t raised to see colour, I was raised to see character. When my mum found out that I was dating a white man she said, ‘Listen, I went through a lot and I want to make sure you love this man, because it’s not easy. You’ll face scrutiny. So make sure that you guys are in this together and make sure you understand what you will face.’ I said, ‘Mom, what are you talking about? It’s 2005. People aren’t going to care!’ But she was right. I look at my parents and I think, ‘Wow, they must be really strong, because what they’ve been through is 100 times worse than what we’ve gone through.’ They were an interracial couple at a time when it wasn’t the norm at all. It’s becoming more the norm now, but it’s still hard.
MT: Switching gears, you have two gorgeous children. Who is easier to parent right now: Ariah or Aden?
TMH: They’re kind of even right now. Ariah will turn 2 in July and as a toddler she has trouble communicating. Now that I’ve been through that phase I know, ‘OK, we just have to teach her to use her words. Let her know it’s going to be OK.’ Aden, who’s 4, is very high energy. He’s like his dad; he can’t sit still. But he just loves to cuddle at bedtime. Ariah is my chill baby—she’s more like me. She can sit there and watch Moana; it’s her favourite movie right now. I couldn’t do that with Aden.
MT: Is life getting a little easier now that they’re getting older?
TMH: Yes, I feel like we’re out of the trenches! It was very challenging in the beginning, because they’re only 2 years and 9 months apart.
MT: In an interview last year you said you were debating having a third child. Any decisions on that front?
TMH: I think I’m done. I’ll always have this thought of maybe adopting a child for the third one. But my body is done. I had babies later in life and it’s harder for me. You don’t realise how often you’re picking them up and then your back goes out. You need the energy. Also, because I had them so close in age I haven’t had the time to catch up with me. I need to pour that time back into me and back into my husband before we even think about adding another child to our family. I do like not being outnumbered by children though.
MT: What would you say are the greatest challenges of raising children today?
TMH: Social media — everything is so easily accessible! When I was growing up, we had more time to just be children. We didn’t see anything or know anything unless it was time, for the most part. But it’s easier to grow up too fast because of the Internet. You can put up control locks and stuff like that at your house but when they’re over at their friend’s house who knows what they’re looking at? When they’re at school with their iPads and mobile phones, who knows what they’re looking at? I want my children to stay children as long as possible.
MT: Last Q before we let you go. How do you split your time between two residences, with two little kids — without losing it?
TMH: We just do. Los Angeles is very fast paced. It’s good for what we do professionally, but sometimes it’s a little stressful. You’re surrounded by the entertainment industry 24-7 and it’s nice to take a step back and not let that define you. I never get bored of Napa and it’s beautiful all year long. It’s our place to center ourselves and have peace. I get my clarity there.
Photos: Tamera Mowry-Housley/Instagram