BlackEnterprise.com: What is your secret to staying power, reinvention and not becoming subjects for industry gossip?
Tia: It all stems from my mother and my family raising my sister and me as “normal kids.” We always understood that being in this business is just a job not our lives. So we lived—attended college, moved overseas—it’s a humbling experience to be with kids who are not in the entertainment business. Also my best friend, who isn’t in the business, helps keep me grounded and humble, and sharing the growing pains of this industry with my sister, so we don’t feel lonely or isolated. We lift up one another.
Tamera: There are a lot of factors. One, we have an amazing support system that starts with God, who holds me accountable for any and everything I do. I know where my blessings come from and why I’ve been given the talent. Tia and I have never thought we’re better than anyone else because all that we’ve been given comes from Him. Our parents are very supportive and encourage us to be the best that we can be in our profession, but to also focus on our character. They don’t live vicariously through us. They don’t want anything to do with the acting business, so they taught us to balance life and Hollywood.
People in this business often forget that your work is not who you are. You can be the best talent and have the worst character in the world. And like Tia, I have family and friends who are going to tell me the truth and keep me grounded. Besides, I don’t feel like I need to take off my clothes to get adult roles because I certainly don’t want that kind of attention.
How did you reinvent yourselves and careers?
Tia: I allowed myself to grow up. I didn’t force it. Child stars feel like they have to force [growing up by] taking all their clothes off to say, I’m an adult now. Patience is a virtue, and I let nature take it course and lived my life. When you live that way you’ll always find yourself being in the right place at the right time—whether I was in college, acting, being a girlfriend, fiancé, wife, mom—it all happened when it was supposed to and it all came together the way God intended.
Tamera: Again, it’s who we are and how we were raised, and like Tia, I believe in letting life happen. It was a natural transition. I’ve been told by my managers and agents in the past that I might need to take a different approach, so I’m not still viewed as a child star; but that’s not the way I chose to handle it. I don’t see it as I need more adult roles, but more challenging roles. It doesn’t mean I need to take clothes off to be considered an adult because I’m not that kind of actress. If I have to, then I don’t want that kind of attention because I’ve done amazing work that I’m proud of. There are so many people in the industry who force their way back in like, “Look at me on this stripper pole!” It took faith, courage and I just lived life, went to college, had a couple of boyfriends, and lived in Florence for about 2.5 months with my sister when we were 22. So when it was time to come back, I did and was grown. I don’t like to feel like anything about my life is fabricated.
So what’s the best business and money advice you’ve both received?
Tia: We still had an allowance and we started investing right away. We aren’t lavish spenders. In the African-American community we don’t know too much about investments and we must continue to educate our young people to do so. At the age of 12 we were taught it’s important to invest and put away your money and let it grow. Yes, you might lose some; but start saving two to five percent at a young age and the older you get you won’t have to force yourself to do so and you will have a really nice retirement.
Tamera: My mom told me: “If you’re not happy being an actress, follow your heart.”
So I always tell people if you do what you love then you’re going to be successful at it. Also the best advice I received was “always have a hobby that will keep you grounded.”
Hollywood is so inconsistent you can become a [slave] to it. I’ve seen this happen, folks are sitting and waiting on that phone call and it never happens. That’s why it’s important to prepare so when that opportunity happens, you’re ready. Actress Jenifer Lewis, whom I love, told me: “When you’re working, save your money so that when you’re not working, you can put yourself on a budget.”
Too many people in Hollywood spend while they’re working and when there’s no more work they realize they’ve gone through their money, owe back taxes and can’t pay their bills. Again, you must always be prepared for anything in this business and in life.
See a preview of Tia & Tamera on the Style Network here.