For Tamera Mowry-Housley, Christmas is her thing. With her third Hallmark movie, The Santa Stakeout, out this year, she’s pretty much on her way to being holiday royalty. Take one look at her Instagram and you’ll see why this time of year is so fitting for her — it’s a cheerful collection of family memories, good times in the kitchen and overall positive vibes.
This wholesome brand has been something Mowry has been molding since her days on the iconic ‘90s sitcom Sister Sister, where she starred alongside her twin Tia. By the way, if you watched Sister Sister growing up, it’s probably time for an eye cream. The hit show went off air over two decades ago, but that nostalgic feeling we get from thinking back to young Tia and Tamera cracking jokes on our TV screens, is one we can’t shake.
We recently spoke to Tamera Mowry-Housley about her new movie, the realities of being a young Black actress in the ‘90s and owning her identity outside of being a twin.
This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.
See also: Style cues to steal from ’90s teen dramas.
A lot of us watch these [holiday] movies back-to-back and we’re always looking for a fresh take. What’s different about ‘The Santa Stakeout’?
Tamera: That’s so interesting because I knew going in [that] I wanted to do something different. My grandmother — she was one of my favourite people in the entire world — she would always say, ‘dare to be different.’ But in being different, you know, it’s a risk. Some people are either going to love it or some people might not. This one, it’s different in the sense that we have a lot going on. There’s comedy, mystery, drama, romance, and when you watch the film, it’s more of like just a romantic comedy. And that’s something that’s something new. I mean, it’s really funny. That’s something new for Hallmark.
So we’re talking about Hallmark movies and I feel like I have to ask you this — what’s your all-time favorite holiday movie?
Tamera: My all-time favourite holiday movie — and I feel like the older I get, I’m like, ‘OK, no, Tamera. You have to be a little bit more mature than this’ — [is] Home Alone. I freaking love that film. I laugh every single time I see it. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it. It doesn’t matter if I watch it outside of the Christmas season. I am obsessed with that movie. It’s a classic. I love it.
I actually want to get into Sister Sister because when I think about my childhood, I think about certain shows that were always on TV. Sister Sister was one of them. What was it like growing up and working with your sister so closely?
Tamera: It was a dream come true. Every day, I knew that one day it was going to end. You know, all great things — there is an ending. What goes up… I mean, it’s just the way of life.
So, I enjoyed it and I got to work with my sister — my twin. And we didn’t realize how special it was until after we filmed it because it would stand the test of time. It didn’t matter what country the show was in, people fell in love with it. It crossed racial barriers and age barriers. We inspired young women who looked like us to embrace themselves. We had the representation there at a very young age. And now with it being on Netflix and resurfacing each year, and now my children and their friends love it. It’s crazy and I’m just so grateful.
We didn’t realize how special it was until after we filmed it because it would stand the test of time.
What was it like being a young Black actress on this big stage that you had?
Tamera: We lived in Texas at a very young age, and we were kind of like the only biracial kids in school. So we did experience, ‘What are you? Why does your hair do that?’ We did experience that at a young age, but we never experienced it in the workplace. I would always say auditioning is a grueling process, but there was more tension and anxiety when we were auditioning [back] then because there weren’t that many roles. And usually everybody — every woman of colour — your age was in that room auditioning for that one role. There were times when they would clump all ethnicities into that one role. So basically your chance of getting a role was very slim.
When the show ended and you both had to go on your own different paths, was it a challenge creating your own identities apart from the show and each other?
Tamera: We always say we’re the yin and the yang and we balance each other out. We’re different and we have to fight and be like, ‘No, see both of us.’ Because we were successful together for so long, that if one got something — I got Strong Medicine and she got The Game — we had to realize, there’s something for everyone. There’s something for the both of us if we stay true to who we are because we have different gifts, different vibes, different auras.