Reagan Gomez-Preston became a household name when she starred as Zaria Peterson on The WB sitcom “The Parent ‘Hood.” And since then, she’s had several roles in TV and film in the following decades — including guest roles on “ER,” “Queen Sugar,” movies like “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Jerry Maguire” and voice work on “The Cleveland Show” and “Rick and Morty.” But her role in the new TV One Christmas film “Dear Santa, I Need a Date” marks her first step into the holiday movie realm.
The flick, which also stars Ray J, Jay Devon Johnson and Annie-Marie Johnson, follows a pair of successful and determined siblings who never make way for a love life, much to the disappointment of their parents. As the pressure mounts this holiday season, the brother and sister duo place a bet on who can land a date before Dec. 25 rolls around.
While the tale is sure to make for an entertaining story when it airs Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. ET, it’s not something Gomez-Preston personally relates to.
“I was also married at 19 — my husband and I were 18 and 19 [when they got married],” she told Atlanta Black Star at a set visit in September. She added that she and her model spouse DeWayne Turrentine “were making our own decisions” as they embarked on their 20-year marriage.
Early on, the actress dished they had the pleasure of “hanging out with our nieces and nephews” and held off on having children until the eight-year mark rolled around. That’s when they welcomed Scarlett, now 12, in 2007. Tyger, 8, came three years later.
“We wanted to make sure — not that it was perfect when we had our own kids, but that it was as perfect as it could be,” Gomez-Preston said. And with parenthood, she’s made it a point to put her family first.
“Me being an actress, I had to make the decision to take time off. And me being a black actress, that is something your agent tells you not to do,” she said. “Because that amazing role might be right around the corner! So forget having your own happiness and your own love and your own life. You have to stay on point for that next role that may never come.
“It’s one of the things that I’m most proud of about my family is that we chose to say, the business will be there, we will be fine and we wanna start our family,” she continued. “And it is one of the best decisions that I ever made.”
Gomez-Preston says she and her husband are proud soccer parents, with Turrentine being an assistant soccer coach on the kids’ team and the actress as a soccer mom.
“I kinda fell into it,” she explains. “And it could have not happened. We could have gotten married and it could have fallen apart and that would have been OK too. But this is where I am, this is where I’m at in my life, and I’m proud of that.”