Tia Mowry-Hardrict is gearing up to star in her first full-time role in a family sitcom since “Instant Mom” wrapped in 2015. And the TV veteran says the one thing she’s most enthusiastic about concerning Netflix’s family series aptly titled “Family Reunion” is the all-Black writing staff.
“That idea in and of itself was just exciting to me,” she told Atlanta Black Star Thursday, June 20.
News of the series’ creator and executive producer Meg DeLoatch assembling an all-Black writers room emerged just last week. The move, Deadline reported, was made to bring authenticity to the sitcom.
The show focuses on Cocoa McKellan, a free-spirited mother from Seattle, Washington, played by Mowry-Hardrict. She and her retired football player husband Moz pack up with their four children and move to Columbus, Georgia, for a family reunion and wind up coming to stay.
Even from the teaser trailer, the show is filled with lots of references to the culture. From a sharp look Loretta Devine’s character M’Dear shoots at her grandkids to the adoration of sweet potato pie, the script is something that only could have been developed from Black minds.
And for Mowry-Hardrict, that’s the magic.
“I think the reason why having an all-black writer’s room excites me is because I know that the stories that are gonna be told are coming from a real, authentic place,” the actress explained. “I was very, very excited, to be honest with you, to open up and read all 20 scripts that we had. Because I knew that whatever I would be talking about or whatever I would be having to act out, it wouldn’t be inauthentic. It wouldn’t be coming from a perspective that thought that this is what it’s like. No, this is coming from a perspective where someone actually lived out that idea.
“There’s just a lot of authenticity, that comes with the storylines,” Mowry-Hardrict continued. “And there’s a lot of weight and it’s very grounded because it’s not coming from someone’s idea of what they think living with a black family is like. This is what it is because I have lived it. As an actor, to be able to express these words, it was rewarding. It becomes very unique and grounded and very relatable.”
Another thing that’s relatable to Mowry-Hardrict is the role that religion and faith play in the southern-based sitcom. Growing up, the actress and her twin sister, fellow actress and “The Real” co-host Tamera Mowry-Housley, would accompany their mother, who is currently studying to become an evangelist like her mom before her, to choir practice and settle under the pews
“We would be sleeping on the floor under the pews counting the gum we put up under the pews,” she recalls. “So I grew up in the church. So to be able to be a part of …. a television show, number one, where we can delve into these authentic plots and storylines that are built around the gospel, it was very relatable to me.”
While Mowry-Hardrict has been in the business since childhood, the star said that there was a lot she learned by working with veteran actors, Devine and Richard Roundtree.
Not wanting to give away too many of Devine’s acting secrets, Mowry-Hardrict said she learned to simply believe every movement she makes has a purpose for her character.
“I’ve learned as an actress from her never, ever, ever say anything that’s coming out of your mouth that you do not believe that is true to your character,” the star says. “That you believe that is not true to the situation. She dives so much into her characters into her character. It’s mindblowing. … She stays true and authentic to everything — even moving from point A to point B.”
As for Roundtree, Mowry-Hardrict appreciated how focused he is in his work.
“He’s always so rooted and grounded whenever he opens his mouth. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a joke or if it’s not,” she says. “He always stays true to what’s being said. You can even see it in the promos when he’s talking about M’Dear’s sweet potato pie. Whenever he talks, I can always see that he’s drawing from some personal experience. It just, makes it so real and so grounded.”
See how Mowry-Hardrict puts what she’s learned on display when “Family Reunion” begins streaming on Netflix July 10.