Tim Reid reminisced about “Sister, Sister,” his 50 years in the entertainment industry, stand-up comedy, and the launch of his network LG|CY Of A People Network.
Actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur Tim Reid has been in the entertainment industry for over 50 years. One of his most popular roles is that of ’90s dad Ray Campbell to twins Tia and Tamera Mowry on the hit show “Sister, Sister.” Reid admitted that he was busy during the duration of the show’s run, but that that didn’t take away from what he learned while being involved in the production. “I first have to confess two things. One is, I loved working with that group of actors. It came at a point in my life and career when I was changing focus. I was leaving the acting world and the directing world and building a studio, a film studio in Virginia,” Reid continued, “So, I was divided. So I didn’t spend a lot of emotional time tied to that show. Matter of fact, I’ve only seen about seven or eight episodes of the show.”
Even though Reid was semi-distracted with the evolution of his own production company in Virginia, he learned much from his fellow cast members and crew. “The reality was that show saved me in many ways in terms of me staying in the business. Working with the talented Jackée Harry, who is one of the most talented actresses that I’ve ever worked with. And those two young women, who now have families of their own, grown…they helped me understand young people a little bit better and have a healthy respect for young people,” Reid said.
Reid also struggled with an issue he saw at the time of shooting “Sister, Sister.” “The other part of the reality [of making the show] and the reason that I had a little bit of creative trouble with shows of the ’90s was the majority, if not all of comedies, whether they were starring black characters or not, were written by young, white men,” Reid divulged. “That was a problem that I had had with show business all those years, the ’80s and the ’70s. These shows, whether they be ‘Good Times’ or ‘Jeffersons’ or ‘What’s Happening.’ All these shows are written by white writers and they did well and they won Emmys and they made fortunes, but they dictated the culture of Black America through these stories,” the Reid Production founder explained. “And it always bothered me. And I think I was a little harder on some of the writers on ‘Sister, Sister’ because of my experiences prior to that.”
Noticing the tone and structure of stories for Black characters in TV production wasn’t the only lesson he got out of working on “Sister, Sister,” Reid has learned how much the show was watched and re-watched by so many kids and teens, in the ’90s and even today. “Hindsight, of course, is 20-20, I’ve discovered that there were some things that we did on [‘Sister, Sister’] in terms of stories that affected people in a way that I had not imagined,” Reid said, “I say that because I was at an event a few years after the show was no longer being aired and a young lady walked up to me and I thought she wanted an autograph.”
Reid told a story of a woman who found Reid to be somewhat of a father figure for her. She approached him at an event and, from what he recounted, said in part, “I come from the foster care program. I was one of those unfortunate kids who, if you reach around 13, 14, your odds of getting adopted are slim and none. I was never adopted. I was in and out of a lot of foster homes. Some bad … Some helped me. Some got me through that year, but at one point I was basically feeling suicidal. I was [wondering] ‘Is this the life of a human being?’ and I started watching ‘Sister, Sister’ and I said to myself that anything that Ray says to Tamara, I’m gonna take as information for me. Whatever he says for her to do, whatever he says to her to challenge, I’m gonna say he’s talking to me.” Reid was floored by the impact he had on this woman’s life and possibly many others that he has never met.
“And she looked at me and she says, ‘I want you to know, you raised a good daughter. I’ve graduated from college and I’m getting ready to get married. I’m an artist.’ And she sent me a piece of her artwork and I will never forget that because it reinforced the strength of story. It reinforced the impact that these stories have on young people who are sitting in front of the TV,” Reid said.
Although primarily known for his acting, Reid has something even bigger in the works. He has created his own streaming network called LGCY TV. “I’m not out to fight and say blacks invented the world. [But] the contextualization of history is important…is important to me,” Reid said of the opportunity. The network will include three channels: culture, history and sports.
“Blacks have fought in every war on this planet. Those kinds of things are what I want to do. I can’t expect everyone to tell the stories that I want told. It’s nice to see what black people have to say about white people for a change. Economically, socially. The propaganda wars are real. It’s powerful. It’s real. There has to be another way. It has to be less filtered by the European pipeline,” he said of his passion for this network and how it came to fruition. As it relates to people who may not develop an appreciation of the channel, Reid said, “Then don’t tune in. Nothing wrong with a lot of options. Let’s have some more diversity.”