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Tia Mowry-Hardrict knows a thing or two about motherhood.
The actress, parent to a 2-year-old son with husband Cory Hardrict, is starring in and producing Instant Mom, and she tells The Hollywood Reporter that she’s been able to draw on her own experiences for her dual role as star and producer on the sitcom.
“I’m a new mom to a 2-year-old, and to be able to play a mom and use some sort of personal experience and apply that to the role — I thought that would be an amazing experience,” she says.
In Instant Mom — which marks Nick at Nite’s second original scripted sitcom after See Dad Run — Mowry-Hardrict plays Stephanie, a party girl who trades in Cosmos for carpools when she marries Charlie (Michael Boatman), who already has three kids. Sheryl Lee Ralph stars as Stephanie’s mother, and Sydney Park, Tylen Williams and Damarr Calhoun play Charlie’s three kids.
Ahead of the series premiere, Mowry-Hardrict talked to THR about how she got involved with the show, why she relates to her character and whether her famous siblings will be making an appearance.
How did you get involved with Instant Mom?
I was approached by Aaron Kaplan, who is one of the executive producers on the show [along with Howard Michael Gould], and he told me to read the script. I read it and fell in love with it. I’m a new mom to a 2-year-old, and to be able to play a mom and use some sort of personal experience and apply that to the role — I thought that would be an amazing experience. Also, this isn’t just any mom — she’s fun, sassy, energetic and not your traditional mom. And I’m not that way in real life either. I saw a little of myself in the part, and I love the whole family dynamic of the show. And I’ve been a huge fan of Nickelodeon since my childhood; I remember watching You Can’t Do That on Television. So I was very thrilled to be a part of it.
You’re also a producer on the show. What’s it been like wearing two hats?
I’m enjoying that process. It’s not the first time I’ve been a producer; I was a producer on our reality show, [Style’s] Tia & Tamera [co-starring her twin sister, Tamera Mowry-Housley] and on a movie I did back in 2008, Double Wedding. But it’s my first time as a producer of a TV show, and I love the whole process of it. I love being involved in the casting and all aspects of the show. It’s just very rewarding to me.
There are actually two mother-daughter dynamics happening on the show. Your character is trying to learn to become a mother to her stepkids while also dealing with her own mother.
Sheryl Lee Ralph plays Maggie, and she is so relatable and almost like the voice of reason on the show. She always tells it like it is. We recently did one episode where we’re really excited to take the kids on a family vacation, which we’ve never done before, and she says, “Honestly, taking a family vacation is no vacation.” She’s the voice of reason and also micromanaging me. I deal with that with my real mom. I find myself in the same situations with my mom, especially now that I have a child. My son is not potty-trained, and she tells me he needs to get out of diapers. But it’s all out of love. I tell her she needs to just let me go through the trial and error on my own. But she’s right sometimes, and I have to go back to her and apologize and say, “You’re right.” It’s finding that balance between [knowing] when to listen and when to figure it out on your own.
What do you think viewers will find relatable about your character and this blended-family dynamic?
We talk about topics that a lot of families can relate to. And you’re seeing more of these blended families in our generation, which adds a fresh quality to the show. It does have a classic setup — it’s about a family, it’s four-camera, and it goes back to the way TV used to be, but it has that little twist of it being a blended family. Not only that, but I’ll take it a step further. On a lot of television shows, you always see the guy as the fish out of water when it comes to the kids. This is one who where you get to see a woman be the fish out of water. She’s trading Cosmos for carpools. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with the kids; it’s all trial and error. That’s a fresh point of view. It’s nice to see her be a fun, cool mom and going through these difficult situations she has to go through and be a mom to these kids.
Any plans for your sister or brother [Tahj Dayton Mowry, ABC Family’s Baby Daddy] to appear on Instant Mom?
I don’t think so. We’re so good at keeping our things separate. My brother wants to do his thing; my sister wants to do her thing; I want to do my thing. Where my sister and I do come together are for branding opportunities. We’re focusing on creating products for postpartum and pregnant women and for toddlers and babies, and we’re really enjoying doing that together, but right now I think you’ll just see me on the show and my sister and brother doing what they want.
This show features an entirely African-American cast. While there are other shows that do as well, do you think your show helps fill a void on TV?
Yes, I definitely do, and I will say that I’m happy to see that there’s a show that has an African-American cast that is a show that’s for everyone, and not just a show that will only cater to the African-American culture. It’s a show that can cater to all types of cultures and that happens to have an African-American cast. I feel very blessed to be part of a show like that. This is a show that the whole family can sit down and watch.
Your Style reality show Tia & Tamera is moving to E! (reruns will air on the sibling following Style’s switch to Esquire Network, but no announcement has been made on a new season). Will you do more reality?
I really enjoy doing reality; I think it opened a lot of doors for me and helped my sister and I with our branding, creating a brand for ourselves. So I’m open to continuing to do reality, but my love is acting. It’s my passion. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now, and I love being able to escape in a character and play something I’m not, whereas reality is you being you. It’s not like it’s not a challenge but I like to be challenged and I feel like I’m more challenged as an actress. I’m also passionate about executive producing. I just sold a show to Nick with Aaron Kaplan that’s loosely based around my life growing up with a mom as a drill sergeant.
Instant Mom debuts at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Nick at Nite.
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