Sister, sister—never knew how much I missed ya.
It's kind of hard to fathom, but it's been 25 years since the world first met Tia and Tamera Mowry with the debut of Sister, Sister as a midseason replacement on ABC's iconic TGIF lineup—and it's been 20 since they said goodbye to their alter egos Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell when the show signed off for good on May 23, 1999, by then a veteran of upstart rival network The WB's schedule.
But saying goodbye to the beloved characters after six seasons didn't mean that we were forced to say goodbye to either of the Mowrys themselves. And that's because, over the course of the last two decades, the identical twins have managed to keep their careers afloat in a way that often eludes most stars who get their start at the tender age of 14. And in the process, they've also managed to keep the thing that helped earn them the spotlight in the first place, their unshakable and somewhat supernatural sisterly bond, firmly intact.
After growing up and living out their awkward teenage years in front of cameras and millions of eyeballs, the twins took a page out of the playbook belonging not to their Hollywood contemporaries, but the millions of average teenagers across the country and did something truly revolutionary: they both enrolled at Pepperdine University to pursue twin psychology degrees.
"I think that Tamera and I grew up naturally; we didn't force anything in society. We didn't make any announcements that said, 'Look at us we're adults.' Like being thrown in magazines with no clothes on," Tia told Vibe in 2011. "Some people chose that route and say, 'Look at me I'm an adult now. I took my clothes off, see?' Tamera and I didn't do, we grew up, we stepped away for a moment and went to college."
While attending the Malibu, Calif. university, the pair also took advantage of everything it had to offer them, making sure to study abroad and see parts of the world as far-flung as Egypt, Italy, France, and Spain. "I grew up and then I came back," Tia explained. "But I just lived my normal life and stayed normal. Tamera and I weren't out getting drunk. We were in school and I think that centered us."
After receiving their degrees, both Tia and Tamera returned to their day jobs, starring together in projects like Disney Channel's Twitches franchise and Seventeen Again, before allowing their paths to diverge as they pursued solo gigs like Strong Medicine (for Tamera) and The Game (for Tia). And along the way, they managed to make that transition entirely without scandal, something they attribute to their devoted parents Darlene and Timothy, who brought them and their younger brothers Tahj (who starred in a series of his own, Smart Guy) and Tavior up in a close-knit, spiritual home. (The sisters became born-again Christians when they were eight.)
"I have to give all of the credit to our parents," Tamera told Huffington Post in 2011. "They're really proud of what we do, but they have no interest in Hollywood, so they weren't living vicariously through us, and they weren't trying to be our best friends. They were our parents. They taught us that you shouldn't identify yourself with Hollywood; identify yourself with yourself."
It's a lesson that they're award their peers haven't always been able to master. "They identify themselves as if they're working and if they're not working, and some have this pious 'I have this gift and I'm better than everyone else' kind of attitude," Tamera added. "So when it all goes away, they have nothing left. Just remember that Hollywood is not your life."
Of course, having your twin standing beside you as you attempt to navigate Hollywood is a distinct advantage, no matter how well-adjusted you are. "Tia and I have twin telepathy," Tamera said. "I know exactly what she's thinking, I can feel her and I can sense her. All I have to do is look in her eyes and I can tell what she's thinking and visa versa."
"Having Tamera with me in this business was always a help," Tia told Vibe. "Because when I wondered if I would ever get another job again she understood what I was going thru. And we would help to build each others' confidence levels."
While they've always been able to pivot into new arenas to keep their careers not just afloat, but thriving—a joint detour into reality TV in 2011 for Tia & Tamera on the now-defunct Style Network, a longtime hosting gig on syndicated talk show The Real for Tamera, a Cooking Channel series entitled Tia Mowry at Home for her twin—they've both been able to manage to build rich home lives that could rival the upbringing they received when they were young.
For Tamera, her love story began when a Pepperdine professor set her up with Fox New correspondent Adam Housley in 2005. Despite wanting to keep focused on her career, an email from Adam won her over and they embarked on a first date at P.F. Changs that made clear they were the ones for one another. "I really loved who she was and I'm like, ‘This is someone I can see spending the rest of my life with,'" Adam told Yahoo! Lifestyle in 2018.
"I love Adam because he has a beautiful soul. This man, it hurts him not to care. He will give the shirt off of his back to a stranger—well, it's easy to give to a stranger, but Adam will give the shirt off his back on a cold day to someone he doesn't even like," Tamera gushed to Ebony in 2011. "He just believes in the moral code. He believes in values. He believes in family. He believes in the Golden rule. He is the most generous human being I have ever met."
The couple, who welcomed son Aden in 2012 and daugher Ariah in 2015, eventually tied the knot in 2011 after six years of dating and one break, which Tamera concedes was crucial to making theirs a lasting partnership. "I never wanted to be married in the infatuation stage," she told HuffPo. "A lot of the time when people get married in the infatuation, it will go down. That is inevitable. The infatuation stage will not last forever. I'd rather marry my husband in the stage where I know what I'm getting into and what it's going to be like for our life together."
Tia's happy-ever-after arrived when she met actor Cory Hardrict on the set of indie movie Hollywood Horror in 2001. And like her sister, it was Cory's strong faith that drew Tia to him. "He's a strong man of faith and prayer. I find that very important for me because I am the same way," she told Ebony. "This business is hard and I needed someone who would say 'Tia, get on your knees and pray,'—whether it's business-wise or personal—and that's what I love about Cory."
It also didn't hurt that he's a true gentleman. "When we first started dating, Cory asked permission to kiss me," she added. "That's when I knew Cory was the one. He's such a gentleman and really, really sweet."
The two welcomed son Cree in 2011 and daughter Cairo in 2018 after walking down the aisle in April 2008.
Over the years, diverging career paths and growing families have meant that there's often less time for one another. And that means hiccups in a relationship born at birth. But they've always done the work to keep things on track. When Tia & Tamera was on the air, that meant attending therapy together. "Therapy is so important. Different people have different perspectives on life. It's important for you to learn how to respect those differences and therapy really helped with that," Tia told Ebony. "Tamera and I are not in therapy anymore but the impact that it's had on us is always expect the best from your sister and I think that when somebody's feelings are hurt, you automatically turn to the judging side. When you automatically assume the best, you won't be as hurt, you'll say 'Maybe she's going through something because I know my sister loves me.'"
And now, it's their children who help keep the sisters tight. "Our lives are very busy. She lives up north and I live in Southern California. But what's so amazing is how our children are what really, really brings us closer together," Tia told People last year. "It is the most beautiful thing to see."
As she explained, it's the kiddos who remind them to make family a priority. "No matter how busy we get or how we have our separate lives with our separate families, we have children that really bring us together," she added. "The kids are so close and get a long so well. They act more like siblings."
And in times of deep sorrow, they're always, always there for one another. When tragedy struck last fall as Tamera and Adam's beloved niece Alaina Housley lost her life in the senseless shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Tia was, of course, there to support her sister as only she could. "Tamera is such a family girl and is supporting her husband and his family through this, and Tia of course is doing anything she can as well," a source told HollywoodLife following the tragedy. Tia and Tamera are as close as sister possibly could be, and talk upwards of five times a day. They'd each drop anything for the other which is exactly what happened."
"Tia and husband Cory will do anything they can to help Tamera and Adam," the insider added. "The husbands and kids are all very tight knit and close as well and trying to get through this."
While it's unclear when the two might work together again—their last joint endeavor was the book series Twintuition, which released its fourth entry in May 2018, and a much-discussed Sister, Sister revival has never managed to pass the "in talks" stage—it's clear that the Mowry siblings aren't going anywhere. Tamera can be found on The Real every weekday for the foreseeable future, while Tia is making her way to Netflix with a starring role in upcoming series Family Reunion. And they'll be doing it with the other in their corner and a philosophy that hasn't let them down yet.
"Ever since we started doing Sister, Sister, we had a vision for where we wanted to go," Tamera once told Glamour. "And now a lot of the hard work is paying off. It has always been very important for us to show different facets of who we are. We're not just actors. We went to college. I like to think of myself as a very educated and smart human being, so I wanted to capitalize on that. I love everything about entrepreneurship and about owning your career and doing what you love to do."
As Tia told Ebony, "This world is a crazy place. The reality is we're not here for a long time. With that said, I like to choose to focus on the positive because whatever you throw out comes back at you. I believe if you're a good-hearted person that will definitely come back to you. Are things perfect? No. But I'm going to focus on the positive and you can be negative all by yourself. Happiness is a choice. And I've also found that someone who wants to focus on the negative won't want to be around someone positive. Maybe that's the formula right there!"