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Standing their ground together

Actresses share faith, life lessons at area youth rally


Advocate staff writer

Advocate photos by Randy Bergeron

Tia, left, and Tamera Mowry attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., where they are majoring in psychology.

Twins Tia and Tamera Mowry, 23, stars of the syndicated comedy, "Sister, Sister," don't curse.

While recently auditioning for a role, they were asked to play characters who cursed, but refused.

The directors weren't too pleased at first. "They asked us, 'Can't you be real? Everybody curses,'" the twins said.

But they said they stood on the principle that as Christians, "We're supposed to bring the light" and cursing would cast a negative light on their beliefs.

The director eventually allowed the twins to change the dialogue, saying they "brought light and character to our roles."

There was a lesson in that experience, Tia said. "Learn to not let your environment change you, but you go in and change the environment."

Last week, the Mowrys shared that experience and others with the audience during the "Pressing Toward the Mark" youth rally organized by state Rep. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, and the Urban Restoration Corp. The event was held at LSU's Union Theater.

The twins began their speech with a little tap dance jig and then churned out a few familiar jingles.

"We have a lot of words of encouragement to share with y'all," they said.

The twins' rise to stardom started with a simple dream and the belief that "everyone is born with a purpose," said Tia, the younger twin.

They were born in Gelhausen, Germany, to career Army parents, and grew up in Fort Hood, Texas. The pair live in Los Angeles.

They said their mother and manager, Darlene, set them up with various beauty pageants and talent agencies, such as "Star Search."

Though they failed to make it past auditions on "Star Search," the twins continued to press forward.

"Realize that you have to sacrifice and take time out to perfect and build that talent," Tia said. The duo continued to sing, dance and perform wherever they could.

And they continued to be rejected. "We were turned down in auditions, but we prayed and encouraged each other," Tia said.

But their Texas accents and style of dress turned off some California directors, they said. "We'd go into auditions with big hair and bows and casting directors would say, 'Take them out.' "

The twins continued to polish their act until they got their big break nine years ago to act in a pilot, "Sister, Sister." The sitcom focuses on the lives of twin sisters separated at birth until a chance meeting brings them and their families together.

Then they got the call, "Our pilot was turned down," they said. "Then they called back and said, 'Your pilot was picked.' "

Teen-agers attending the rally at LSU said the twins' message centered on some familiar issues.

Students said peer pressure, making responsible decisions and standing up for their beliefs are some things they can relate to.

Pressure to have sex before marriage comes from both boys and girls, said Karamia King, 15, a student at Glen Oaks High School. "I'm smart and I know how to say, 'No,' " she said.

The best way to avoid peer pressure is to "find something that interests me and work hard to accomplish it," King said.

Meanwhile, the Mowrys are preparing for their first feature film, "Hollwood Horror," cutting an R&B CD and being the voice of twins in a new animated Saturday morning series, "Detention."

Tamera believes two things helped them reach their mark. "Prayer and dedication got us there," she said.

The sitcom continued until the girls turned 20. After "Sister Sister" was canceled, they entered their "drought" years. "In those two years we were like, what do we do?" Tia said.

The pair decided to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., where they major in psychology. They said their time away from the limelight has allowed them to reflect and grow closer to God.

"We have to try to put God in all aspects of our lives," Tia said. "As long as you incorporate Jesus and glorify him, he will make your dreams come true."

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