"It was very terrifying," she confessed in an exclusive interview with E! News. Outside of question-and-answer-style speaking engagements at schools and churches, the actress had spent the whole of her three-decade career saying other peoples' words. So claiming a seat on The Real in 2013 and "talking on personal issues and issues that people are going through," she said, "talking about suicide, talking about relationships—that was very daunting for me."
And while she eventually found the upside in giving her take on hot-button topics—"I realized that it actually can be very powerful. But most importantly, inspiring and encouraging"—it was tougher to accept the spotlight it put on her personal life, namely her 11-year marriage with journalist Adam Housley.
"You become headlines, what I like to call clickbait," she shared. Among the more shocking accusations: That her husband, a former Fox News correspondent, was racist.
"My marriage is not perfect," she admitted to E! News, "but I am happily married. And I would never want to be married to a racist. My family, number two, would never accept a racist in our family. And, three, I'm actually at a good point in my life. I am very, very happy. I am so grateful for the life that I have."
Together the graduates of California's Pepperdine University have built a family—they share son Aden, 9, and daughter Ariah, 7—and a business in her husband's Napa Valley hometown, with his family's Century Oak Winery, their Housley Napa Valley tasting room and a joint YouTube channel.
And all those years having to defend their marriage have only made it that much more rich and full-bodied.
"It definitely made us stronger," stressed the 44-year-old. "Because we know who we are as people. So you just turn inward and you focus on your love for each other and you focus on your circle of amazing supporters and people."
Her stretch on her recently canceled Emmy-winning series taught her "you can't take that stuff personal," she explained. "Every person in this business, if you have reached a certain level where they're talking about you, you're going to have naysayers. So I choose to focus on the positivity. I choose to focus on the truth. And I choose to focus on love and that's where I am."
This idea that no one defines who you are—you do—is just one of many "Tameraisms" peppered throughout her recently released book, You Should Sit Down for This: A Memoir about Life, Wine, and Cookies, lessons the actress hopes to share with the fans who have been in her cheering section since she was one-half of the bubbly twins on the beloved '90s sitcom Sister, Sister.
There's a healthy serving of nostalgia as well, Tamera revealing how their journey to TGIF fame began with nailing a double Dutch routine. Their mom had given Tamera and sister Tia Mowry a one-month deadline on their Hollywood dreams. And with one audition—for a Chrysler commercial—left before they'd be forced to return to Texas, they spent hours transforming themselves into jump rope wizards to book the gig.
With that one job, they leapt feet first into the entertainment business filming commercials and a guest role opposite brother Tahj Mowry on Full House, each part leading them closer to that chance encounter with producer Irene Dreayer, who bit on their idea for what Tamera called "Sweet Valley High meets The Parent Trap."
Sister, Sister "was a gift that changed my life," Tamera writes. But she feels she could have been just as happy as, say, a kindergarten teacher—a career she very seriously considered as she struggled to make the leap from child star to industry vet.
Asked if she ever thought about what life would have been like if they'd returned to Texas, she told E!, "I do, actually. And you know what? I would have been OK. Because I'm a true believer of what's for me is for me. So I would have found a way to make that path work."
That just-keep-swimming mentality is a trademark of the Mowry clan, Tamera joking that even in an apocalypse, they'd find a way to keep it moving.
Referencing those years of trying to book something, anything to stay afloat, she said that she and Tia maintained their confidence "because we were very determined, supported and loved." Throughout it all, she felt safe and certain they were on the right track, she continued, noting, "The Mowrys are a family who always makes it work."
It's messaging that feels particularly apt in light of her sister's divorce announcement, news that broke a day after Tamera's chat with E! "I support her," Tamera said on the Oct. 5 episode of Today with Hoda and Jenna. "So whatever she wants, the Mowrys have her back."
As for her own union, it seems to have only benefitted from a yearlong split she and Adam, 51, took while they were dating.
"Honestly, he was the first guy that I stayed in a relationship for that long and it scared me," she recalled. "Because he was not what I pictured. I had this vision. I knew I was going to be with an actor. And here is this news reporter who's seven years older than I am. I would have never thought. And we genuinely fell in love with each other. And I say genuinely because it wasn't just based on looks. It's the souls. It's when souls connect and there's that happiness there."
More than a decade in, their relationship has aged not unlike a fine wine. "I truly believe he's my soulmate," she shared. "We just get each other. And he enriches my life. He inspires me to be a better person. He is my number one fan." And though she allows that "he gets on my damn nerves" at times, he is undoubtedly her best friend: "He makes my life just better."