There’s no shame in asking for what you want.
For beloved actress and entrepreneur Tia Mowry, putting herself first ahead of success and happiness wasn’t a walk in the park. But she took the time to discover her passions and spread love despite the bullying way.
During BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s 2023 Women of Power summit, Mowry shared stories, shed tears and dropped some gems of advice for a ballroom full of 1800 Black professional women. Emmy award-winning anchor and reporter Tashara Parker was fully tapped into Mowry’s testimony as a moderator of Permission to Put Yourself First, one of the multiple conversations that count.
Captivating and raw, Mowry lit up the stage.
When asked what makes her fulfilled, the mother of two left us all mesmerized. From tears to laughter, she was unapologetic in showing us the depth and range of human emotion, while inspiring us all to embrace our vulnerability and authenticity.
“Talk is cheap,” said Mowry. “Children learn from observation. Fulfilling my purpose is showing my children that when you have a dream or a passion, go for it. And you can do it. You can do anything you put your mind to.”
“Sometimes growing up, we feel like we have to force our way into our career or into doing something. What I have done I’ve allowed myself to experience life. Allowed myself to really find out who I am as a person.”
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The Family Reunion star became a household name when she graced television screens alongside her twin sister Tamera in the hit 90s TV sitcom Sister, Sister. She said she often faced rejection in Hollywood because casting directors described her big curly hair as a “distraction.”
Straight hair was more desirable, and although Mowry believed in the hype too, she realized that falling in love with her curly hair was more fulfilling. And so she created an affordable hair care line, 4U by Tia, to encourage woman to do the same.
“I didn’t always have a great relationship with my hair because of what society thought beauty was until I ended up on Instagram and seeing this amazing beautiful community where there so many women like myself … putting perms in their hair …trying to fit in,” Mowry shared. “They were basically putting their foot down and saying no more. I am no longer going to conform to what society says is beautiful. I am beautiful just the way I am.”
The room returned the love with ovation.
“When you’re passionate about something, time is not really there,” she added. “You can be working 14 hours, but when you’re having fun, it feels like five.”
In addition to having the lived experience of a woman of color with curly hair plus her decades-long tenure in the entertainment industry, Mowry knows firsthand what it’s like to be underrepresented in the hair and beauty space. Sh recalled the dark time when she and her twin were called the Buckwheat twins.
“It was terrible. When you’re young and you’re vulnerable and you’re still learning about yourself…then have people talk about you in my opinion a racist way was terrible. That is one of the main reasons why I am an empath today. I don’t want anyone to feel how I felt when people were bullying me,” Mowry explained.
“I would cater to the kids who bullied me. Because people were being so mean and so cold to them. But I wanted to give them love,” she continued.
“Thank you bullies! Now I am a better person because of it.”
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Power of community
Back in her 20s, Mowry was diagnosed with endometriosis, which is a highly inflammatory condition that causes infertility and may affect more than 11% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S., according to an exclusive interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
After enduring excruciating symptoms and two surgeries, Mowry took her doctor’s advice and changed her eating habits and lifestyle.
“One of the first times I became extremely vulnerable was when I was very open about having endometriosis,” Mowry revealed, crediting her community for fulling her cup.
“What I realized and learned was in that vulnerability and by me sharing my story and saying ‘it was very difficult for me or hard for me to have children. There was even a time in my life that I didn’t even think I was going to be able to have children.’ I was so scared and nervous about what people would think about me.”
“I was inspiring others and they were also inspiring me.”
Chase the joy
“You are worthy and deserving,” Mowry affirmed the room.
“Sometimes we don’t feel like we deserve to be happy. Chasing the joy means in your head, what are the things that make you happy. What are the things that make you feel alive? What are the things that you make you feel like you are making a difference in this world?”
Additionally, Mowry said, “Be aware of who you are around. Who’s supporting you. Who’s encouraging you to love on you.”