Teen Actress Tia Mowry, Grown Up, Talks Motherhood

Tia Mowry of Sister, Sister fame is now all grown up, she just had a baby, and she's in the spotlight again with her twin sister in the reality TV show, Tia & Tamera. Host Michel Martin speaks with Tia Mowry about her career and her new book, Oh, Baby! Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're switching gears now. You might know Tia Mowry from her days as a teen actress. She starred alongside her identical twin sister Tamera on the television show, "Sister, Sister." Today, she's all grown up and starring in BET's sexy, provocative series "The Game."

This will be her last season on the show, where she played medical student turned football wife, Melanie Barnett, but behind the scenes, Tia had her own medical drama. She was trying to get pregnant and then conceal her pregnancy with her real life husband, Cory. How she pulled it off is just one of the tidbits of advice she shares in her new book, "Oh, Baby: Pregnancy Tales and Advice From One Hot Mama to Another."

And Tia Mowry is with us now. Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

TIA MOWRY: Hi. Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.

MARTIN: What gave you the idea to write the book?

MOWRY: Well, the main reason is, you know, when I was pregnant - you know, and especially if it's your first baby, you're anxious, you're nervous, you're scared and the first thing that you do is you just go out there and you just buy all of the pregnant books that are out there on the shelves. And I just found out that all of them were extremely medically driven and they just focused on all of the scary stuff that goes on through pregnancy.

And I was like, I don't really need to be reminded of this. I'm already scared as it is. I need, you know, someone to just talk to me and just, you know, make me feel like - you know, you're just talking to their girlfriend. And it needed to be fun, informative at the same time and that's why I decided to write this book because I felt like that's what was missing.

MARTIN: Well, on the cover, you are actually a very hot mama. You were wearing some killer heels.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Which, even now, some of us would have trouble staying upright on.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: But one of the things that I liked about the book is, first of all, you are very candid about the struggle you had just getting pregnant.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: I think that's important because I think that, particularly for women of color, perhaps there is not a lot of literature that even describes the emotional...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...challenge of dealing with infertility.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: I wondered if you'd talk a little bit about that.

MOWRY: Yeah. You know, I didn't even know what endometriosis was when my doctor diagnosed me with it. I was having a lot of pain whenever I would, you know, have my menstrual and I even went to several doctors and they were like, oh, these are just cramps. And, one day, I was just having really, really bad cramps that I was really close to calling an ambulance and I called, you know, my family doctor at the time and she was like, Tia, just get on the treadmill, take a hot bath, put some heat on it. I'm like, look, I am in pain.

So my friend, who was staying in the same building - she knew the OB/GYN that delivered Will Smith's kids, Dr. Dolores Kent. She's amazing and I saw her and, the first time, I just sat down with her. She did an ultrasound and she's like, I think you have endometriosis.

MARTIN: But you know what I'm interested in is I have to assume you have medical insurance. You certainly have access to...

MOWRY: Yes.

MARTIN: ...health care.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: You are a young woman.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: And I guess I think that a lot of people might be surprised that there was still so much ignorance...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...around a common medical condition and one...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...that seems to particularly affect women of color. We're not really...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...quite sure why.

MOWRY: I had no...

MARTIN: What do you make of that?

MOWRY: You know what? I don't know. Like I said, I had no idea what this was and here I am, a woman of color, and my first doctor, who was just my family doctor, never said anything about it. I had more than one ultrasound. More than one. And she never mentioned it to me whatsoever and I think, also, when you're young, you're like, oh, well, you know, this is just cramps. So - yeah.

MARTIN: The other thing that you are very candid about in the book was your concern for your career...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...once you became pregnant.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: And, again, I'm really interested in this because this is an experience that I think other people will have, although it's kind of unique in your case in the sense that...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...as you point out in the book, you spend a lot of time in lingerie. You know, it's a little different from most workplaces...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...at least, that I've been familiar with.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: But it is a challenge that I think a lot of people aren't particularly honest about. And could you just talk a little bit about that? I mean, is it just...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Is it the idea that, you know, if you're not sexy, then you're not employable? What's the issue here?

MOWRY: Well, unfortunately, I will say this. There was this one director that I was working with and they were auditioning some girls and I knew the girl that they were seeing and I thought she was great and I was like, why did she not get that role? He specifically told me she did not get this role because she just had a baby.

MARTIN: Now, we've heard this some from other artists like, for example, Toni Braxton has...

MOWRY: Wow.

MARTIN: ...previously spoken about how the record label that she was with at one time was not aggressive in pushing one of her albums after she had her child.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: So what is that? Do you think - is this a woman problem? Is this a...

MOWRY: I will be really honest with you.

MARTIN: What is this?

MOWRY: I think, for me, you know, because I was a little - I was scared and afraid, but ever since I had Cree, it seems like my career has opened up even more. I wanted to write a book and they were able to, you know, work everything out so I could write a book and then, right after that, I was able to, you know, do a movie. I just finished doing a movie with Tori Spelling, who just had a baby, as well.

I think it's harder for women who are viewed as vixens in this business. So, if they are seen as these, you know, sexy kittens, you know, and it's harder for men to view them as sexy again, you know, because they just had their baby, which I think is not cool. I feel more sexy. I feel, you know, empowered because I gave life. I have a son now. I feel like I'm stronger.

MARTIN: I am woman. Hear me roar.

MOWRY: Yeah. I am woman. Hear me. I mean, that's what I wrote in my book.

MARTIN: You try this, director.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Not giving people a job. You try this.

MOWRY: Yeah. But, with me, I've always had this, you know, girl next door - you know, I have a very clean image, so I think it's an easier transition.

MARTIN: If you're just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. I'm joined by Tia Mowry. Her new book tells about the joys and the pains of pregnancy. The title is "Oh, Baby: Pregnancy Tales and Advice From One Hot Mama to Another."

So let's get to some of the fun parts. What was the best thing about being pregnant and what was the worst?

MOWRY: I think the best thing about being pregnant would definitely have to be seeing just my belly grow and seeing, like, wow, there is, you know, something inside of me. Really, no matter what I do, it's going to be working. Like, just - you know, it's unbelievable how the human body is.

The worst part about pregnancy would definitely have to be my nausea. I don't know why it's just called morning sickness because morning sickness never just happened in the morning for me and it's not happening just in the morning for my sister. She's pregnant, four months right now. Mine happened in the morning, afternoon and in the evening and, not only did it just happen in the first trimester, it happened throughout my whole entire pregnancy. I'm like, dang, how come nobody told me about this?

MARTIN: Well, that's why you have this book now.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: So let's talk a little bit about your career now. You have a lot of fans on "The Game." What is it about that series that you think connected with people?

MOWRY: One thing that I love about the show, number one, is it focuses on women and, you know, women who are powerful, women who are successful, but also, these women were real and relatable and one thing in particular that I loved about my character was it showed her flaws. Not everybody is perfect. Everybody goes through certain journeys, you know, within their lives and they showed that.

The show also talks about things that a lot of people don't talk about. We talked about infidelity and, you know, baby mama drama. You know, we talked about realistic stories, I think, that women go through and that we overcome.

MARTIN: And now, you're working on a reality show with your sister.

MOWRY: Yes.

MARTIN: Your twin, Tamera.

MOWRY: Yes.

MARTIN: I understand that that's actually going very well, too.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: It's a top-ranked show...

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...on Style network.

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: What do you think people are interested in with that?

MOWRY: For some reason, I think people resonate with my sister and I because we're real people. We're honest. And then, also, they feel like they grew up with us and we're hilarious.

MARTIN: What's your best bit of advice for somebody who's maybe just starting on this journey?

MOWRY: The one advice that I would give just to moms who have a child or a newborn is definitely sleep while the baby sleeps. I've heard that so many times. I never realized how true it really is. If you don't, you'll be walking around like a zombie. The other thing is, as a new mom, trust your instincts. It's embedded in you. We were created, I think personally, for this. We were born to just know, really, what to do.

For women who are pregnant, sometimes, when you're pregnant, everybody, especially your mother-in-law - your whatever - sister-in-law who's already had kids - they kind of want to throw all of their ways on how they had a child, whether that's - make sure you breastfeed or make sure you don't get an epidural. You know, it's up to you. This is your baby. You have the right to do whatever you want and if you have a mother-in-law that's constantly pointing her finger, don't argue with her. Just smile and nod and just say, OK. Thank you. Because you don't want to get into an argument. You're pregnant. You don't need to be stressed.

MARTIN: Bring out your inner Tia. Right?

MOWRY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Tia Mowry is an actress. She joins her identical twin on the Style network's "Tia and Tamera." She was kind enough to join me in our Washington, D.C. studio to talk about her book "Oh, Baby: Pregnancy Tales and Advice From One Hot Mama to Another."

Tia, thank you so much for joining us.

MOWRY: Thank you.

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