Twenty-five years ago, sitcoms like “Moesha” gave young Black women a reason to celebrate sisterhood and love through the lens of Brandy‘s teenage character, Moesha. The UPN series aired from 1996 to 2001, documenting the life and family of Moesha following the death of her mother.
Shar Jackson, who played Moesha’s best friend, and later college roommate, spoke with Atlanta Black Star on Thursday, Oct. 28, about creating lifelong memories with her former cast members.
“I literally grew up on that show and made my lifelong best friends and family members on that show. [There’s] stuff that you guys didn’t get to see the behind the scenes, the camaraderie between me, Brandy, Countess [Vaughn], Lamont [Bentley], and even Sheryl Lee Ralph and William [Allen Young] when they were there,” said the 45-year-old actress. “But the stuff that those kids did together, we were insane. And I think we all kind of learned who we were through that whole process.”
William Allen Young played Frank, the fictional father figure for Moesha and her brother Myles, portrayed by Marcus Paulk. In response to fans who called Frank “the worst Black TV dad of all time,” Jackson says the heat stems from Young’s character hiding a previous affair from his family and Ralph, who played his on-screen wife, Dee.
“Frank went from being this amazing present father to then later on…we found out that he had an affair and then the other kid and all those other things,” Jackson pointed out. “That was hard for all of us to kind of wrap our heads around because he went from such an amazing, perfect TV dad to this guy who was clearly cheating and doing some other stuff.”
Brandy’s real-life brother Ray J played Dorian in “Moesha,” who Frank initially introduced as his nephew. Shockingly in season five, Frank’s aunt spilled the beans that Dorian was Frank’s biological son.
“That’s probably why [they] said he was the worst TV dad,” Jackson added. “But in real life, he’s one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met in my life. I look at him as kind of like a dad, but also like that fun uncle. I just love him.”
She said she’s willing to add “a little spice” to her character Niecy in a “Moesha” reboot.
“I would love to do anything with that group of people because again, that’s my family. I adore them,” Jackson expressed. “I would just be really curious to see how they would structure something new because we no longer have so many of our cast members. It would be interesting to see what they would do, like how they would put something like that together. But I’m always down to do it. I love those guys.”
The cast reunited in 2017 during an episode of “The Real” to discuss the possibility of reprising their characters in a reboot. They also reminisced on fallen cast members, including Lamont Bentley and Yvette Wilson.
Shar Jackson is now a mother of four children, two of which she shares with Britney Spears’ ex, Kevin Federline. Since “Moesha,” she’s made guest appearances in television series and films such as “Girlfriends,” “Good Burger,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Ex-Wives Club” and the upcoming season of Showtime’s “Shameless.”
Jackson currently stars in “Celebrity Exorcism,” which she described as an “insane” experience. The actress joined an NBA champ and “Full House” star for a paranormal experience at the haunted Rosenheim Mansion in Los Angeles, California, where “American Horror Story” was filmed this summer.
“I think when we did it, we went in going, ‘Okay, this is just going to be terrifying the whole way through,’ ” Jackson admitted. “But you can’t put myself, Metta World Peace, and Jodie Sweetin in a situation where we’re supposed to be terrified and think you are not going to laugh at us like the world isn’t coming to an end. Because I watched it and laughed hysterically the whole time. I don’t think I was laughing when I was doing it.”
“Moesha” is available on Netflix and “Celebrity Exorcism” is available on Tubi.