INTERVIEW: Tahj Mowry Talks BABY DADDY, His Multi-Faceted Career & College Football

When Tahj Mowry was a toddler, his mother/manager Darlene would take him along to the set with his older twin sisters, Tia and Tamera, who starred in the hit comedy series, SISTER, SISTER. At the age of four, he began working in commercials and proved to be such a natural in front of the camera, he soon was in heavy demand.

Mowry made his TV debut guest starring on WHO'S THE BOSS? and later played a recurring role on FULL HOUSE. He has also appeared on FRIENDS, SISTER, SISTER, Disney's animated series, ALADDIN and THE LION KING, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, THE GAME and THE SUITE LIFE OF ZACK AND CODY.

He has starred in SMART GUY, KIM POSSIBLE, Disney Channel movies Hounded, Poof Point, and the Showtime movie Seventeen Again.   His film credits include Are We Done Yet? and Bad Meat.

A gifted singer and dancer, Mowry has worked on numerous videos, with such talent as Michael Jackson, Prince and Mariah Carey. He has appeared as Oliver Twist in the musical "Twist."

In 2003, Mowry left Hollywood to play college football on a full scholarship at Savannah State. Two years later, he came back to California, after he realized he missed his first love, acting.

Mowry, who continues to go to college part time at Pepperdine University while majoring in Merchandising, is currently starring as Tucker Dobbs in ABC Family's newest hit, BABY DADDY, airing Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

We Love Soaps recently spoke with Mowry about his new role in BABY DADDY, college football and career.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What can you tell us about Tucker and just exactly how well we’re going to get to know him over the course of the rest of the season?
Tahj Mowry: Tucker is definitely a crazy character and I love playing him so much because there are so many layers to him and he is just very hilarious. He’s basically the best friend that everyone would want to have. He’s very outgoing, very fun and energetic, but he has no filter.

So, he doesn’t really know that sometimes the things he says aren’t really the right thing to say or the right time to say them. He gets himself into a lot of trouble sometimes with Ben’s mom; they have their own little relationship going on and they don’t really like each other. So, as the season goes, we’ll definitely see that relationship sort of get even funnier and more awkward when they’re home alone together, which you can imagine can be a little crazy.

Also, you’re definitely going to get to see Tucker’s job in the future, which is going to be a treat. Tucker is that character the baby’s always spitting up on or peeing on or throwing up on. Tucker is always getting into those things.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Are there any similarities between you and Tucker?
Tahj Mowry: Like Tucker, I’m very fun and I love my friends… and Tucker really loves them; with all of his heart he really does.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I would love to hear about how you made the decision to play college football, and then also –the story about how you ended up returning to show business.
Tahj Mowry: Well, as a lot of people know I’ve been acting since I was five or six years old. I was doing this my entire life, and once I entered tenth grade, I believe it was, I took a break from acting just to be a high school student. I continued to do Kim Possible on Disney just because that was easy and it was voice over. It was very quick. It wasn’t really time consuming, plus that show was amazing. It was super fun to do.

As far as the acting on camera and the movies, I definitely took a break just to be a high school student. I wanted to go to homecoming. I wanted to go to prom. I wanted to graduate. I had been playing football and sports my entire life. I really began to focus on this football thing, and ended up getting a D1 scholarship and played for a year, and then came back for a summer and was like, “wait, do I really want to get beat up every day at practice? Is this something I want to do all the time?” I’m like, “No, I’d rather just like be in front of a camera.”

So, I had to switch again. It was almost like I had missed my true calling or I was missing what I love to do so much and, obviously, in that three or four year span of the football thing I had thought that that was the best thing in the world at that time. Then, when I came back for that summer I realized how much I do love acting and how much I do love entertaining and making people laugh and bringing characters to life. So, I decided to come back to acting and that’s around the time when I did Are We Done Yet with Ice Cube. So, that was my entrance back into the world.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Besides being an actor, what kind of careers are interesting to you?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, I really find chefs interesting. I wish I could cook like crazy chefs. I would love to do that. For some crazy restaurant. Also, I go part-time at Pepperdine University whenever I’m not working; it’s just been hard to go back to school now because of the show and all that; but I study advertising there. So, advertising is something that really interests me, like commercials and movie advertisements.

Are there any plans for like a Tucker-centric episode?
Tahj Mowry: There is definitely more Tucker in the future. There is an episode coming up, not this week, but next week, because a new episode isn’t coming on this week; our next new one is going to be airing on the 11th, and Tucker has some problems with Danny’s lucky jersey. He may or may not shrink it. So, that causes a big issue in the episode. We’ll also really get to see the problems with Vanessa, his girlfriend, and if they’re going to stay together or not. Also, Ben and Tucker have a really cool episode, I think it’s episode 7, where they’re fighting for the same girl, and there may or may not be a dance battle.

You mentioned Vanessa; will we see more of Tucker’s love interests in future episodes?
Tahj Mowry: You may, we may see her in the future. But, as far as the episodes that are lined up now, we won’t see her. But you will know of things that are going on with Vanessa, very much so, because as we all know Tucker is very much whipped with the whole Vanessa situation, which is funny because as a character he puts off as, “I know everything, I mark my food, don’t touch my stuff.” But, he’s not afraid to stand up to this 6’7” man, Ben’s brother, but he gets whipped by his girlfriend in his own life.

You have two famous sisters, Tia and Tamera. Did they inspire you to get into the entertainment industry?
Tahj Mowry: Actually, no, I was so young. I was the first one to actually start acting because I was super young, and then they had gotten SISTER, SISTER. They got their show before I had gotten Smart Guy, but as far as like commercials and stuff, I was the first one to actually do that. But, as far as now, we definitely inspire each other, especially when we work together, like when we did Seventeen Again, back in the day, and I did a couple episodes of my sister Tia's show, The Game, and we inspire each other in life as well. We’re all a very close family, and we have a younger brother who doesn’t act, but we all inspire each other. We’re all super close.

Are you afraid that since your sisters are so famous that you would end up in their shadow and maybe being recognized for that instead of your own acting abilities and talents?
Tahj Mowry: I feel like if that was to happen it definitely would have already happened because I’ve been acting since I was six. We each do our own projects, like the other reality show. We like working together, but we like to keep it separate, just so we can have our own things going on. We root each other on every day and we don’t worry about whose shadow anyone else is in. If the fans like it, they like it.

Around the topic of family, has being an uncle made a difference in how you see your character, Tucker?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, my gosh, it definitely has. I feel like I’m cheating in a way because no one else really has experience, except for Melissa, obviously, because she has a 6-year-old son. It was almost like I was doing research for the role beforehand without knowing, but it definitely helps. Obviously, it’s a whole different thing because you’re doing a television show. While you’re holding the baby or trying to make this baby laugh and trying to keep the baby okay, because they’re young and they don’t know what’s happening really, or actually they kind of do because they are like more professional than we are. But, it definitely helped, as far as staying in the scene really, because babies can cry at any minute. They may not be having the best moment, so you have to sort of be responsible for getting them back happy again really quick, because not all the time we can cut. So, we have to start a scene and keep going. So, definitely having my little nephew around has helped with that, and getting used to the drool and the spit-up. Now, it’s like nothing to me, “Oh, really, spit up.” So, yes, I’m definitely more prepared than some of the other cast, probably.

How much of yourself do you put into Tucker?
Tahj Mowry: That’s a very good question. I try to stay genuine in who Tucker is and, obviously, we’re very different people as characters, me and him. But, I feel like when you act you have to put something of yourself in each character you play, so that it’s different from how anyone else would do it. You put a stamp on it, “Oh, that’s how Tahj does Tucker.” No one else will ever do Tucker like Tahj, because he’s putting himself in it and, obviously, no one is like you in life. So, if you put yourself into it, any character you play, it’ll be that much more special and that much different from how anyone else would do it. I think that’s why people are really liking Tucker, because I feel like a lot of people know how I am, my character and real life and how I act, and how I’m very fun. So, I try to put that into it and just make it – because, you know, sometimes Tucker can be annoyed at times and sometimes kind of mean; kind of a douche-bag. I try to keep it light sometimes, and very fun, just so it’s not too much. But, I think that’s why people are loving him so much, because I play him very real. It’s a sitcom, so sometimes that can be hard. You don’t know how you should do it, how over the top you should do it. So, I try to keep it right in the middle and I feel like people are really gravitating towards Tucker and they can relate to him, even though he’s a trip. I just have fun with him and put a little bit of myself in there, so people are like, “Oh, wow, I really love that.”

Now that we’ve got the full premise established through those first three episodes, is there going to be any new relationship drama between your guys’ core group that we’re going to see?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, yes, definitely. There is always going to be drama between Bonnie and Tucker, because they do not like each other. It gets even funnier when they have scenes alone coming up, just Tucker and Bonnie, if you can imagine it. I feel like they’re the same person. They both think they know everything, but in reality they know nothing. So, when they’re together they butt heads because they want to be heard and they want their idea to be done. They are both just ganging up on each other and kind of hate each other, but Melissa and I always joke that maybe it’s because they are secretly in love with each other. Tucker and Danny– you’re going to see them bicker. It’s almost funny because we did an episode where Tucker and Danny have this sort of bromance happening. They go in a man cave and they’re besties, and it’s really funny because he’s huge and I’m normal height, and just seeing the dynamics of Danny and Tucker together are hilarious. So, you’ll definitely see more bickering. It’s almost like they’re dating. It’s really hilarious in this episode that’s coming. But, and also Ben and Tucker are going to have a little argument in episodes to come when they fight over the same girl. All we’ve seen so far is Tucker and Ben being best friends and they love each other and they’re helping each other out. But we have yet to see best friends fight, and in that episode, I think it’s Episode 7, you’ll really get to see the realistic friendship battle that friends go through, when they like the same girl. So, they may or may not have a dance battle over it in a club. You never know.

You mentioned earlier, your sisters, Tia and Tamera. What was it like growing up with them? Did you have a lot of competition in trying to get certain jobs?
Tahj Mowry: No, not really at all. So I feel like, first of all, as siblings, there are four of us. We have a younger brother, Tavior, but he doesn’t act, but we’re all really spaced apart in age. I’m seven years older than Tavior, and Tia and Tamera are eight years older than me. I think that’s why we’re so close, because we never really fought, because we’re so far apart in age that there is nothing really to fight about, because we’re all going through these different sections of our lives. Because the age difference is so different. As far as the work with me and Tia and Tamera, you know, they’re going out for completely different roles than I am. So, there has never ever been that sort of competition, and we’re always behind each other and we support each other in every project that we do, and when we work together it’s even more fun. There has never been competition, because the roles are so – they’re females, I go out for male roles, obviously. So, there is never really like that sort of, like, “oh, I’m going to get this role.”

You mentioned working with Melissa Peterman. How is she to work with?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, my gosh. Melissa Peterman– I feel so blessed to be able to go to set and watch her work. She’s a comical genius. She’s a sitcom genius. I’ve learned so much from her, and not to mention, she’s just one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met. I love her from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know how we get work done, because we’re always joking on set. Me and her, we like invent new TV shows that we’re starring in and we pitch them on set and people start dying. That’s why the scenes that Tucker and Bonnie have are so great, because we live for working in scenes together because it gives us a chance to play. We both come from sitcom backgrounds. So when we’re in scenes together it’s like this magic that happens and we just love it, and I love Melissa. She’s amazing.

I just found out that you actually played Teddy on Full House. Do you still keep in touch with any of the FULL HOUSE cast members?
Tahj Mowry: Every now and then I’ll talk to Jodie on Twitter and all that, and Candace is a family friend. She’s very close with my sister, Tamera. So, I see her the most out of everyone, and I love Candace. She’s great.

I hear you’re a big PRETTY LITTLE LIARS fan. How did you get hooked?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, this is a funny story. Actually, before we started shooting this show, me and the cast of Bunheads and newer shows were in the offices and we were talking about all the shows in ABC’s Family, and I had said, “Yes, I never have seen an episode of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS,” and someone in the office heard me and within five seconds, I had a Season 1 DVD of  PRETTY LITTLE LIAR  in my hand. I don’t even know where she came from. She’s like, “Here you go, Tahj.” I’m like, “Whoa, what is happening? How did you get in here?” So, I have it in my hand and I’m like, “Well, I guess I should watch it. I mean they gave it to me.” What if I’m doing interviews and they ask me about “A.” I want to know. So, I go home, and like I’m staring at the DVD and– I never thought in a million years, I would be watching Pretty Little Liars. So, I’ll put it in, see if it’s good, and the first five minutes in I’m like, “this is the best show on television,” and now it’s horrible, because you’re waiting every week, saying “Oh, my God, I can’t take it. I need to watch this show.” So, I freaking love that show and I’ll tell the world. I don’t even care.

So, any chances for a BABY DADDY cross over?
Tahj Mowry: That would make my entire career worth even more than it is. Are you serious? That would be hilarious. Would it be single camera, or would it be sitcom? I feel like we should bring them over to the sitcom, to see if they have it!

You’ve always been such a positive role model and play such positive characters throughout your career. Is that something you take into account when you choose your roles, like this one?
Tahj Mowry: Yes, definitely. That’s very important to me. Obviously, script is a very important process in that, as well. I have to sort of feel myself getting involved in that. Can I get involved in it and will I be able to put forth what I need to put forth to make that character come to life? There is not a lot left of that sort of family programming, and I feel like I’ve made a name for myself in that family realm, and people expect that and they want to see it and they miss it. The fans are just so amazing because they’ve just been so happy that I’m back on television doing another family show that their whole entire family can sit down and watch, of all ages.

I think that’s important too, because with a show like BABY DADDY, I think that’s why it’s doing so well. We came out with amazing numbers and the second week we did even better. I think it’s because people miss that sort of family vibe and that sit-down show that their entire family can watch and talk about later, and that’s what I love doing. I love making people laugh and I love catering to multiple ages and audiences, and that’s what BABY DADDY does. It’s so heartfelt. It’s so sweet. It’s so cute. It’s real. It’s hilarious. It’s fun. Its quick paced, and it’s that old school sitcom vibe, and I love doing these family roles and that’s what I do. So, why not keep doing it? It works. People love it, and I love it, because there is nothing better than doing what you love, acting, and having a positive message in that as well.

Are we going to see any of your former co-stars from SMART GUY or FULL HOUSE or even your sisters guest star on BABY DADDY?
Tahj Mowry: I have no idea. I have no clue. That could be fun though, definitely.

All the cast comes from a comedic background and they’re wonderful comedians to start with. Do you all have any sort of input into the direction of the show?
Tahj Mowry: Yes, actually, they’re very cool with us. Our director, Michael Lembeck, who did three seasons of Friends, which we’re so lucky and blessed to have him, because I learn so much from him. But, he calls it playing. He’ll just let us play. He’ll go out there and play. If we get it how it’s on paper at least a couple times, and they’re happy with that, they’ll definitely let us go in and add a little thing here and there or we can pitch jokes if we want, if we feel like they’re okay. Michael has a thing that he says, if you have a question, just show him, and he’ll say, “Okay, go show me, show it to me.” So, as an actor to have that respect from someone like Michael Lembeck to trust you with jokes and with the timing and with the comedy means the world, because he trusts you and he respects your talent and that’s great to have with a director. We’re so comfortable with him now, and he’s just amazing to work with. So, yes, they definitely listen to our input and, obviously, if it sucks they won’t let us do it.

Speaking of the cast, no one’s mentioned Chelsea Kane yet. How is she to work with?
Tahj Mowry: Chelsea, we have become the greatest friends. She is so beautiful, so talented. She has a great spirit about her. She’s so great, and she can dance awesome, and I can dance, so when we go out afterwards from work, we have to go dancing because it’s just fun. But, yes, that’s my girl. See, we have so much fun on set, and you’ll get to see more of Tucker and Riley in scenes together too, which I’m pretty sure people want to see that. But, yes, I love working with that girl. She’s amazing.

Are you still pursuing your singing career?
Tahj Mowry: Yes, actually, I am. I put it on hold a bit, just for, you know, to be doing BABY DADDY because when you do a sitcom it’s every day, five days a week. It’s very time consuming. But, yes, definitely during our breaks I will be getting back in the studio and working towards that dream I’ve always had of putting an album out. People are really waiting for it, which is cool to see, because I have a lot of U2 videos of me just singing covers and everyone’s like, “come on, come out with an album.” Even our makeup and hair trailer on  BABY  DADDY are like, “When are you coming out with an album?” I’m like, “Okay, Geez, I’ll do it.” It’s been a dream of mine to be a professional singer since I was 13, 14. So, in the near future, whenever we’re on breaks from  BABY DADDY, I’ll be in the studio.

You mentioned that you and your sisters like to keep your work a little bit separate. But, are you stopping by on their reality show at all?
Tahj Mowry: Right, maybe in future, who knows? I’m so busy with this show, and they’re so busy with that –reality stuff takes lots of time to do, and– it’s about having 12 cameras around you while you’re eating lunch, that isn’t very appealing to me. So, believe me, they ask me every day, “come over Tahj, please.” I’m like, “Ah, I’m okay; I’d rather not have cameras following me down Sunset.” As for now, I’m just focused on the  BABY  DADDY thing and not the reality stuff.

Who is the person most likely to pull a practical joke on set?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, that would probably be either me or Jean-Luc, or Melissa, actually. Me and Melissa would probably do a prank on someone together, because we’re this crazy team that just loves to– we walk around with video cameras and interview people in different voices. We’re crazy on set. I don’t know how we get work done. But, me and Jean-Luc are definitely crazy. People will stare at us on set, just because we’re having this weird moment together. Some inside joke that happened last week and no one knows what we’re talking about, and we’re just laughing hysterically, and then we’re trying to do a scene and we’re like, oh, yes, we’re at work. Our cast is ridiculous. We’re crazy.

I did see the one when you did the JERSEY SHORE, you and Melissa.
Tahj Mowry: Oh, my, which is funny because Melissa and I were just joking on set one day– this was just something that came to our head, because that’s what we do, and we pretend to be other people because we have multiple personalities and we’re crazy. But, someone saw it and they’re like, “oh, my gosh, we need to this as a promo for the show,” and Melissa and I are like, “Okay.” Then, one day at work they came up to us and they’re like, “Are you guys ready to do the JERSEY SHORE thing?” I’m like, “Oh, we’re really doing that. That was a real idea. Okay, yes, let’s do that.” So, everything you saw was like spur of the moment, no script, just straight from the top of our heads. So, I’m really glad it turned out so funny.

What Disney character would you equate to each of your fellow cast members? Now, let’s start with Derek.
Tahj Mowry: Oh, my gosh. Are you kidding me? He’s Gaston. Like, we say that on set. That was the easiest one you could ask me. We actually talk about this on set. He’s Gaston.

How about Jean-Luc?
Tahj Mowry: Jean-Luc. I feel like he’d be the prince in Cinderella.

Chelsea?
Tahj Mowry: Chelsea is Belle.

Melissa?
Tahj Mowry: Melissa is a combination of every Disney character. I can’t think of one for Melissa, that’s hard.

Not even a good character, or an evil character, or Fairy Godmother?
Tahj Mowry: Oh, she’s for sure the Fairy Godmother, thank you. She totally is; I didn’t even think of that. Yes, that’s for sure Melissa, without a doubt.

Now, what character would you be?
Tahj Mowry: Drum roll, please – I’m Aladdin, obviously,

Being on the show, has that changed your ideas of what parenting is about?
Tahj Mowry: Definitely, I mean it has not changed it, but it has just let me realize how hard it is and that’s it’s not anything to play around with and if you’re not ready to have a child you definitely shouldn’t, because it takes a lot. It’s not about you anymore. It’s about this child, or children. It is a switch from your normal day life of like, “What am I going to do today?” “What is this day going to benefit, and how is this day going to benefit me,” and it changes. Like, “Wow, the world, my life is completely about my child, who I love so much.” Everything goes away from what you need and what you want and it’s a selfless act. It’s beautiful, and if you’re not ready to do that, then don’t. If you’re not ready to give 100% to your child, then you definitely shouldn’t even mess around with it.

I don’t know if you’ve seen other shows like ONCE UPON A TIME? We tend to put hidden Mickeys, which are images of Mickey Mouse, or other Disney characters into the set. Do you have any of those on your set, or better yet, can you put one there?
Tahj Mowry: I’m going to start looking for those now. That’s amazing. Every single week the scripts are so different, and our set design team has to really buckle down and do these sets so fast because its sitcom and the turnaround is no time at all, and they’re so talented. We walk on set and there are episodes coming up where we have a baseball thing going on in the episode, and this dugout just looks so realistic and so beautiful; we have rooftop stuff coming up, which is the rooftop of our apartment building in New York City, and it just looks so beautiful, but now I’m going to start looking for those hidden images. That’s awesome.

Or better yet, you could even wear a Mickey!
Tahj Mowry: I can totally do that, or I can make my own hidden images and get in trouble. “Who drew that Mickey Mouse?” “Sorry, that was me.”

Kevin Mulcahy Jr. is a Harvard alum who is currently working as a staff contributor at welovesoaps.com writing theater and web series reviews as well as other in-depth features. Read all his Web Series reviews here. To contact Kevin, email kevin@welovesoaps.com.

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