TAHJ MOWRY TALKS: MORE LIFE, MORE LUXURY + THE MUPPETS MAYHEM!
EDITOR IN CHIEF + PHOTOGRAPHY: COREY GUEVARRA
WARDROBE: KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
BARBER: ERIC JAMAL TILLMON
GROOMING: ANNETTE CHAISSON
@ EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS USING KOH GEN DO
We first met Tahj Mowry in 1992 at just 5 years old starring alongside seasoned & rising greats like Patti Labelle & Vivica Fox. If his industry beginnings were any indication, it’s no surprise that some 30 years later his face & name equity still stand strong, firmly legacied into the global, classic-entertainment landscape! If you reference ‘Smart Guy’ (or Teddy from ‘Full House’ for that matter) to almost any millennial, they’ll know exactly who you’re referring to, which is a standing that countless actors aspire toward & by all accounts of accomplishment is in fact a very big deal! Add in the joint effects of co-family fame & there’s a clear legacy afoot, adored by millions with works still celebrated to this day. Not even several years of school & focus on football could stop what was meant to be, as the star eventually understood that the journey he’d began as a child was in fact his destiny! The decision to return to screen brought him a bevy of TV hits including the top rated ‘Baby Daddy’ sitcom, an apropos reintroduction for the [now] adult actor reestablishing his age appropriate presence. Today we find Tahj readying his debut & contribution to the additionally legacied Muppets universe as ‘Moog’ in the ever anticipated ‘ The Muppets Mayhem’ TV series out today! We were able to catch up with the comedic creative to discuss his life-long Hollywood experience, including initially front running his very famous family & his definition of rest, time & nature as life’s truest luxuries!
TAHJ, WE KNOW YOU’VE GROWN UP HERE IN LA BUT FOR THE RECORD WHERE WERE YOU BORN & WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?
I was actually born in Hawaii believe it or not! My parents were in the military so by all accounts, I was a military brat! We personally didn't live in Hawaii for long, moving to Texas shortly after & landing in California by the time I was 3. So my core life experience, where I grew up was here [in California]. We started in Anaheim & later moved to L.A. County, so I'm an L.A. kid, a Valley kid. I grew up in the Valley. I can say though that whenever I go to Hawaii, I do feel an interesting connection to it. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s my birthplace, but I instantly feel peace & comfort when I'm there! Like even on the plane, as we’re approaching & I can see the island from my window, I literally start to feel comfort, it’s the most interesting thing!
WE KNOW YOU’VE BEEN ACTING YOUR WHOLE LIFE, MANY OF US LITERALLY GREW UP WITH YOU! WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN ACTING AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE?
I think at a young age I just was so energetic. My mom was telling me the other day that I was just a ball of energy, that any room I walked into I was immediately harnessing all of the attention & so she knew very early on, that there was ‘something’ there. I remember I used to memorize commercials growing up, I would memorize my children's books & stories pretending that I could read. In many ways I think I also knew that I wanted to be on TV, it was just a part of me already. I knew that entertaining was a part of who I was from a very young age.
SHIRT:BURBERRY, PANT: AG JEANS, BOOTS: JEAN BAPTISTE RAUTUREAU
WOW! DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST AUDITION OR LANDED ROLE?
I do actually!! I started off in print work. I still have the photo at my house, but it’s of me on a tire swing in a Kodak ad! It always makes me laugh when I see it today, because I look like I totally knew what I was doing, I must been about 3 years old. My first commercial however was for Charmin toilet paper, I actually have a memory of shooting that commercial. Though I was probably about 4 at the time, I actually vividly remember that day on set, it’s crazy how [core] memories work!
A LOT OF US REMEMBER FIRST MEETING YOU AS ‘TEDDY’ ON FULL HOUSE. BUT HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU LANDED YOUR FIRST BIG TV GIG + WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY REALIZE THAT YOU WERE ‘FAMOUS’ TAHJ?
I don't think anyone's ever asked me when I knew I was famous before LOL, So my first major booking I’d have to say was probably my 1 episode of ‘Who’s the Boss’. My first major reoccurring gig however was a show called ‘Out All Night’ on NBC! It starred Patti LaBelle, Vivica Fox & Morris Chestnut. The cast was amazing & though we only did 1 season, that’s how I got Full House. Full House was when things really started to move because you know, it was a show that literally everyone watched! So between Out All Night & Full House I’d credit as my first ‘big’ gigs.
I’m not sure if I had an ‘aha’ fame moment tbh, because again, that as my life & job was all I really knew. So, I don't think it ever clicked growing up, like, hey, am I famous? LOL. Add in the fact that I grew up in a humbling environment where there really was never any room to ‘get a big head’! So I didn’t really know or understand that my life’s experiences were ‘different’ that way until mayyybe around middle school. That’s my earliest memory of when other kids started to… lets say magnify our differences. You know at that age kids are searching for their own social standing in additional to all the other things going on with us & anything deemed ‘different’ was a target, even acting! in LA! Lol. Because of that, my middle school years honestly were not fun for me. I hated it. I was always on guard, though it was clearly just stemming from a lack of information. People thought that I was just coming to school whenever I felt like it or that I was off “playing” as an actor, but in reality, I was on set with crews of people, working! I think I might even be one of the only actors that actually went to regular school when they weren't working. Most child actors or teen actors get homeschooled. They don't go to public or private school. So in the middle of that more authentic experience, I had to deal with equally as authentic middle school attitudes, growing pains & unmitigated popularity contests etc., I played football too, there was 1 time I remember that Jet Magazine came to photograph one of my games- I’d spent so much of my life at that point in front of the camera, it still wasn’t necessarily odd to me. But looking back, I can see how some moments could have registered as indications of fame. Honestly, I was just a kid doing what I loved to do. Yes, people knew or recognized me from TV here & there, but again, I think because I started so young, the levels of notoriety that intertwined just seemed like a ‘part of the job’. It’s also why I think now as an adult, we have to try to be as understanding as possible to everyone’s stories -because all of our literal day to day experiences are all so beautifully different.
LIGHTNING TENDS TO ONLY STRIKE ONCE, BUT THERE YOU ARE IN SAME FAMILY WITH MULTIPLE LEGITIMATELY HIT TELEVISION SHOWS, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE GROWING UP WITH SO MUCH FAMILIAL SUCCESS ALL AT ONCE?
Oh, man, I have this very vivid memory at a very young age of fans chasing the limousine that my sisters & I were in this 1 time. But honestly even with all of the attention that came from ALL of us diving into Hollywood, it also helped create a grounding environment for me growing up because I was constantly around family. I remember the coolest moment around that time was when we realized that Smart Guy & Sister-Sister would be airing on the same night, back to back. That was a big deal in our house LOL. Anytime we're all on television at the same time now, we’re all in the family group chat like ‘Mowry Takeover’ lol!! Between the acting & my brother killing it in the music scene, we're all about that ‘Mowry Takeover’ ha!
WAS IT HARD TRANSITIONING FROM CHILD STAR TO ADULT ACTOR?
I think for me, what helped was stepping away for a bit. During high school, I stepped away from on-camera work & was only voicing on ‘Kim Possible’ at the time. Honestly, it allowed me to be a kid, go to school, go to my prom & just be away from the glare of the lens. Later, when my passion for entertaining & acting ignited again, I was actually playing football & heading to college on a D1 scholarship. My whole focus was all football, then, when I got there to play, I was like, wait, hold on, this isn't fun anymore. Acting & entertaining is my passion, my purpose, that’s what I'm supposed to be doing. So, I think that helped me go from child to adult actor too, stepping away, because it was a good amount of time where people would honestly just expect me to be older upon return anyway you know? When I did come back one of the 1st shows I did was ‘Desperate Housewives’, so it was already an edgier setting & a safe distancing from Teddy & TJ :)
OK SO TELL US ALL ABOUT 'MUPPETS MAYHEM' & YOUR NEW CHARACTER!
Oh, man, Muppets Mayhem is just ...I'm so excited to finally get to talk about it & for the world to soon see it! For so long we couldn't really tell anyone about it yet so, it's just nice to be able to finally give it to the world. On May 10th, it's coming out on Disney+ in an all episode format, so it can be a total binge-watch fest! This is the new era of the live-action Muppets universe. For the first time, It's all about ‘Electric Mayhem’ which is the band that was introduced in the Muppets in the 70s, but never really got their shine before! So now you’ll get to really see these characters & they're all so lovable. The 1 band member we’ve all seen the most prior, is Animal. But in this new show, you get to learn about them all & their journey to finally making their very first album! Even after all of these decades, they’ve NEVER made an actual 1st album! As you’ll see, they get sidetracked very easily & are absolutely just on their own time lol.
Moog is my character’s name & he’s their #1 fan! He follows them around literally everywhere & is all things ‘Electric Mayhem’! Moog is a different kind of superfan if you will however, because he cares SO deeply about the members of this band. So, it's a nice, fresh take on a super fan I think, because it's less [stan] stalker-super-fan & more genuine love & care for a band that brings him joy. He's also an audiophile so he knows his way around a mixing board & during this season he gets the amazing opportunity to go on this journey with them to help create this album. He's literally on cloud 9 the whole time because this is his favorite thing in the world! The show's got everything, music, comedy of course, drama & so much heart. When I tell you it's hilarious, like legit laugh out loud funny! (As all Muppet films & shows are) so you can only imagine! This series is equally so special because it's so grounded in reality. When you watch it there's going to come a moment where you're going to forget that you're watching puppets & you're just going to become so invested in the stories of these characters coexisting in their universe. My favorite thing about the Muppets is that they're all so diverse, different colors, shapes & sizes, but they all come together & they're a family!
We’ve got incredible guest stars, like Morgan Freeman, Charlamagne, Desiigner, Kesha, Damian Marley, Cheech & Chong, you name it. As a person of color, to be able to play a character in a show like The Muppets & to have the person starring opposite me & so many other co-stars also be people of color, it's a beautiful thing & it's so special to me. I think people will be able to see themselves not only in us, in the show, but also in these Muppets. I'm just honored & privileged & thankful to be a part of a show where I get to go to work every day & hang out with characters that I grew up watching. It’s such a joyride & I think everyone is going to love it!
SHIRT: SAINT LAURENT, PANT: TELL THE TRUTH, BOOTS: BAROLLO ITALY, SHADES: GUCCI
IS THIS FOR THE MILLENNIALS WHO GREW UP ON MUPPETS OR WILL TODAYS KIDS ENJOY IT TOO?
This sounds cliché but that’s 1 of the special things about this show. When I tell you it's literally for every age, I’m being 100% authentic! It’s got the nostalgia for the hardcore OG Muppets fans & beyond but it’s also stacked with current storylines & guest stars. Like we have Lil Nas X, we have social media in it, it’s definitely set in 2023 & then of course there’s that classic muppet comedy/silliness that is also relatable to kids like my nieces & nephews. All in all it’s just good TV, there’s family dynamics, there’s also some adult themes, maybe even a bit of love triangle situation going on there. So there’s something for everybody, it’s a show that everyone from all different age groups/dynamics can understand from their levels of perception & subsequently enjoy. And I think, in this era of television, we've lost that, the beauty of going ‘alright, family let's ALL sit down together & watch this show & make it a family event’. -I think this is the type of show that calls for that & honestly it's so beautiful!
" ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IS TO TRAVEL ALONE! I THINK PEOPLE DON'T DO THAT ENOUGH "
WHEN YOU’RE NOT ACTING TAHJ, WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING?
Oh, my gosh. There are so many things. I like to golf. I like to travel. I'm not the best golfer, so you might not see me out at any tournaments [lol] -but I do enjoy the sport. I LOVE to cook. It's very therapeutic for me. I love making new dishes. I love Korean food & cuisine. I love to travel so I'm always on the go exploring. I also enjoy gaming from time to time & staying active with working out & fitness etc., I'm also a big museum dude. Big foodie! Also, regarding traveling, 1 of my favorite things to do is to travel alone. I think people don't do that enough. It can be such an amazing time! I'm an adventure dude, so any type of adventure, theme parks, thrill rides, I'm there! I definitely want to go skydiving & jump out of a plane 1 day!
DO YOU HAVE ANY HIDDEN TALENTS FANS WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW?
Outside of my cooking, I’m low-key a great barista [HA!] I pull off pretty good lattes & every now & then some equally as good latte art believe it or not! -Catch me on the right day & you might end up with a pretty convincing swan! Also, fun fact: I keep to-go coffee cups at my house, so if friends & family come over & they want a specialized cup of coffee, I can make them a ‘Tahj’ latte, complete with a to-go cup for my guest on the move!
WHAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST PEACE TAHJ?
Oh my faith! Without a doubt, my faith. Being in tune with it, with the man upstairs, that to me is what brings the most peace. My family & my closest friends also bring me so much peace. I have a core group of (non-industry) friends that I've been friends with, some since the 90s-2000s! These are friendships that run 15 to 20+ years. Keeping the right people around me that keep me grounded, that we have eachother’s best interests at heart, truly adds to my peace. They can be such an incredible escape from the business. That separation, being able to hang out & talk about real life. That brings me peace! -So yeah, my faith, my family & my best friends = peace!
SUIT: D.RT, T-SHIRT:PALM ANGELES, SNEAKERS: GUCCI
DO YOU HAVE ANY MANTRAS OR AFFIRMATIONS THAT YOU LIVE BY TAHJ?
Oh, yes. I think my main 1 is ‘do your best in life to always keep an attitude of gratitude’. I think that helps with everything. It can help with comparison, mental health & overall growth in general. When you wake up in the morning if you’re aware, that's already 1 thing that you can be thankful for the moment you open your eyes! If we keep an attitude of gratefulness & have it as a practiced perspective, …it really just makes life lighter, everything is okay, anything is attainable from that perspective. Always!
THE PAST FEW YEARS TAUGHT US ALL HOW PRECIOUS LIFE CAN BE. WHAT HAS IT TAUGHT YOU ABOUT ‘MORE LIFE’ OR ‘MORE LIVING’?
Oh, wow, I think multiple things. 1 of which is staying in the present because all we have is today! I think that's a way to live in the mindset of more life. Today is all I have, so what can I do to be an example to the people around me today? What can I do to have more peace & more joy today, -let me go do those things! Just having that mindset of ‘hey, today is the only day I have, let me stay in the present, let me be present in these great experiences that I'm having right now & not stress about things of tomorrow or things that I can't control. More life is here, more life is now.
T-SHIRT: BALMAIN, PANT: MELI, SHOE: BAROLLO ITALY
IF YOU COULD GO BACK A COUPLE YEARS, WHAT’S 1 PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE YOUR 26 YEAR OLD SELF?
Oh my gosh. To my 26-year-old self ...I'd say to not get comfortable in your blessings. Don't ever get comfortable because you'll start to take them for granted. I think that's always an important thing to remember & it also keeps me present in my experiences. I think there were times in my life when I wasn't as present as I would have liked to be. So, the older I get, I'm trying to stay more present in everything. There can be a little bit of a learning curve, but an attitude of gratitude keeps me present & keeps me humbled & honored to be experiencing everything that I'm so blessed to call my life. To not speed through life so comfortable that you don’t notice all the great things happening around you. I think the moral of the story today is being present!!!
CELEBRITY & THE PUBLIC GAZE CAN BE INTERESTING BECAUSE A LOT OF IS PERCEPTION, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, DESCRIBE TAHJ MOWRY FOR US:
I feel like maybe these 3 words come to mind: loyal, joyful & driven.
& LASTLY WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF LUXURY TAHJ & HOW DO YOU PURPOSELY ADD MORE OF IT TO YOUR LIFE?
Obviously, there are so many things that can be luxurious! Luxury is also time right? With that time you can experience nature, which is what I believe is our biggest luxury, I think nature. But also, I think luxury is family/people you care about, everyone isn’t able to have the luxury of being able to have a kind familial environment around them. Not everybody has a group of siblings that they can talk to all the time. Not everybody has parents that still communicate. So, I think those are luxuries. Finding people in our lives who bring us joy, who keep us grounded, who we can be ourselves with & do everything & nothing with at the same time, that's luxury! Making time for these things, in a world of hustle, grind & busy. You should also have ease, have sleep, have rest. Nature, family/friends & taking intentional time to bask & enjoy them all, that is real luxury!