Words Chris Law
Photographer Albert Loman
Fashion Chris Sandford
Grooming Sonia Lee
(For Exclusive Artists Management Using The Organic Pharmacy)
(How this Disney alumnus achieved the amazing feat of staying out of scandal while in the spotlight)
I have been playing a mean game of phone tag with Tahj, and after weeks, we finally connect. It is 2pm in New York City and 11am in Los Angeles. “Don’t be alarmed if you hear birds and other animals in the background,” cautions Mowry, “I basically live in the jungle.”
Navigating the unknown field and not being bothered is something that Mowry knows all about. Being a child actor is not an easy job or an easy life. It could be likened to a Greek Tragedy. A child actor is tasked with entertaining his peers and their parents. He or she have to strike the delicate balance between being cute but not annoying, precocious but not grown, and funny but not inappropriate. Remember child actors are tasked with accomplishing all of this before they are 12 years old.
Unfortunately, many child actors are forced to grow up in front of our eyes. Being a teenager is hard enough, but to have the world watching you makes it that much more difficult. Actors of any age may have trouble finding but it is particularly difficult for those under 21 years of age. As a young thespian, you run the risk of being typecast before you have physically matured or considered washed up before you have officially grown up.
The fate of child actors usually plays out a few ways. Hopefully they have saved enough of their earnings and if they have, they never need to work in Hollywood again. They take a long break, head to college; get a taste of normalcy before heading back into the spotlight. Many unfortunately fall victim to the pitfalls of Hollywood and end up on drugs, broke, in dire straits, and finally on a “where are they now” type of show or worse – deceased.
Of course, there are others, like our cover story Tahj Mowry. Mowry defied the odds by starting out young, winning the hearts of so many and continuing to work on highly successful sitcoms, making people laugh and staying out of tabloids.
Tahj Dayton Mowry first emerged onto television screens in playing a onetime role on Who’s The Boss. His next notable role was doing voiceover work as “Young Sonic” in the animated series Sonic The Hedgehog. Then came his recurring role as “Teddy”, the loveable bestie to Michelle Tanner (played by Olsen Twins: Mary Kate and Ashley) on the hit sitcom Full House.
While Mowry continued to do guest appearances on shows like Friends, Star Trek: Voyager, and Sister, Sister which starred with his real life sisters, Tia and Tamera, it was his show Smart Guy; a show about a child genius who gets skipped from fourth to tenth grade, that really put him on the map and solidified him as an actor. Tahj led the show with charm and comedic timing for the three seasons it aired.
Picking a role post teenage years is one that is very difficult for child actors. Again, one is faced with being typecast or worse, not cast at all. Yet, Tahj never seems bothered by that challenge, in fact he seems to embrace it. When I ask him how he has starred in all successful shows, he offers this: “The power of saying NO! You’ve also got to put time in and believe in your roles” Tahj says. In other words, you have to know the importance of thinking about the character and the show as a whole as “a lot of television shows” are not successful.
Thankfully for Mowry he chose right. In 2012, He began working on Freeforms’ (originally ABC Family) Baby Daddy which he describes as “a modern day Three Men and a Baby”. In Baby Daddy, Mowry plays “Tucker”, a law school dropout, best friend, and wannabe ladies man. A character Mowry says he created from scratch. However, about his character Tucker, Mowry says, “I’m nothing like him. He’s is a ladies man — well he thinks he’s a ladies man. Tucker has Noooo filter.” Tahj continues, “Sometimes I can’t believe the thing he says, I’m like, is he really going to say that?! I have a lot of fun playing him.” This fun translates on the screen as fans of the show really have embraced him in this role including making a hashtag of all his character’s outrageous sayings called #tuckerisms. Baby Daddy just wrapped its fifth season and will soon start its sixth, an uncommon feat for a sitcom in this day and age – much less one that records in front of a live audience. Mowry credits this feat to the tightness of the cast and crew he’s worked with. “We’ve become family over time” says Mowry. “A lot of the stories and dialogue on the show are from things that have happened to us.”
Despite the success of Baby Daddy, it is no secret that TV shows these days is getting grittier. Even comedic actors like Jamie Foxx or Mike Epps have ventured into dramatic roles. This is something that Mowry hopes to explore in the future, but he wants to keep his roots in comedy.
“I’ll never not do comedy, it’s a part of me. This world is already a horrible place. Laughter is necessary.”
Much to my surprise, there is no bad press about him, no horror stories of him being a diva, no mug shots to be seen, and no headlines on TMZ not even a tagged photo on Shade Room. None of this can be said about many of the child actors who begin acting when he did. I’m curious about how he’s stayed grounded in the world of entertainment. “Faith and my parents” he states firmly. “Surrounding yourself with the right people. I have friends that keep me grounded. You need that. You can’t have a bunch of yes people. You need people to let you know when it’s no.” He pauses as if he is remembering. “Yeah, I’ve been drunk, I’ve done things.. But my mess-ups were around people that were trustworthy”.
Mowry remains mum on his dating life. I mention to him that there is also no word of him linked to anyone both past and present. While he maintains he has always kept his personal and public life, he does tell me that he is single. “I literally am dating my music. Dating is not something important to me [right now]. I am focused on what I want to do career wise and family. I love kids, I want a wife and kids, picket fence — that’s a dream for me but I can’t do any of that right now.”
Tahj is cultivating his romance with music. He is currently in the studio recording a follow-up to his 2015 electro-funk R&B release Future Funk. Music is another passion for this actor and he is looking forward to having fun and expressing himself, rather than worrying about the pressures of topping the charts “I’m not doing it to go platinum; I’m passionate about music.. . There will always be a blend of old school and new school. Says Mowry, “I want to pay homage to Lenny[Kravitz], Michael Jackson, Janet and Prince, but put the Tahj spin on it. I’m not going to put something out that everyone has done… I think that’s dumbest thing ever. “