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The ‘Sister, Sister’ Sisters Share the Glory

Uniformity and high gloss typify the usual guests on TV talk shows. So no wonder the Mowry twins stand out, from their mocha complexions to the way they end each other’s sentences or speak as a chorus when talking earnestly and passionately about their favorite topic.

The Big Guy.

“The world has this way of seeing God as judgmental and mean,” said Tamera.

“But he’s full of love,” said Tia. “He’s full of mercy and . . . “

“His mercy endures forever,” said Tamera.

Instead of talk-show cameras, the revved-up Mowrys this time were in the presence of a newspaperman. He had arranged to meet them in a bustling coffeehouse near their home in an outback of Los Angeles County so that he could behold in person their zeal for things spiritual and discover how they cope in a business that many devout Christians regard as profane.

Tia and Tamera are best known as stars of “Sister, Sister,” just about playing themselves as identical twins in a cheery sitcom that ran a couple of years on ABC before a 1995 move to the WB, where its string now appears at an end. And where their show has been the lead-in for “The Smart Guy,” a comedy starring their little brother, Tahj.

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There’s talk of the twins being in a possible “Sister, Sister” spinoff, but Tia and Tamera see movies as their future as they near their 21st birthdays, prepare moving from their parents’ home to their own place nearby, and plan separating professionally.

They’d love having recurring roles together on the CBS hit “Touched by an Angel,” though. Instead of a halo, you could almost see the lightbulb click on over their heads. “I could be your angel,” Tia said to Tamera. “Yes!” Tamera said. “And you could come to me from time to time.”

A done deal. As a coffee machine squealed in the background, it all seemed possible.

Although the sisters don’t evangelize or aggressively push their faith on others, they’re such a kick and so vivacious and seductively sincere about “the Jesus in us” that, after a few minutes with them, even a heathen might consider signing up.

Their own renaissance came at age 8, when the family was still living in Honolulu. They were attending church where their mother, a reborn Christian, was in the choir. Tamera: “I remember the preacher asking, ‘Who wants to know Jesus for their personal savior?’ ” Both girls went forward.

Later that afternoon, they were napping in their room when Tia felt the presence of God and began singing a hymn. “And I started crying. Just 8 years old, mind you, and just crying.” Tamera heard her, and began singing, too.

“I felt peaceful,” Tia said. “It felt warm, beautiful, like no other feeling in the world. I felt I was chosen by God.” Tamera, too. “From then on, we knew that we were saved. We knew that Jesus was our father. But we really didn’t know him until we were 14 years old, because that’s when we started, like, actually talking to him and reading the word.”

And bringing it to others? Yes, but. . . .

“There’s a stereotype,” said Tia. “A lot of people think that Christians are all about judging, condemning, putting down people, and saying people are going to hell, and all that sort of stuff.”

“Like our ways are right, and God is on my side and not yours, and I ahm bettuh than you,” said Tamera, slipping into a la-di-da British accent.

“We’re not like that,” said Tia.

Amen.

So how do they “spread the good news,” as they put it? Team Tia-Tamera flashed that look. “What’s a better way . . . ,” asked Tia. “Than television?” the twins added together.

“We use our celebrity status to speak about God, because, you know, you’re everywhere when you’re on TV,” said Tamera. “That’s how God is using us. So we’re on a talk show, and we start talking about our lives.”

Oh, yes, their lives.

The Pepperdine sophomores joke about their reluctance to move away from their parents and two brothers. Their mother, who is also their manager, “told us we had to be out by April,” said Tamera. “She wants us to grow,” said Tia.

If the twins are right about some in Hollywood seeing them as corny, let’s hear it for corny.

“The Bible says you will be persecuted,” said Tamera. “We go into Christianity thinking that, so when it happens, I just know that I am doing my job.”

For instance?

When they were 16, Tamera said, the sisters were on a talk show whose host treated her like a “fake and a phony” when Tamera couldn’t recall anything negative about her teenhood. “She said, ‘Let’s be real here.’ I said, ‘I am being real.’ Do you know how much that hurt me? People look at us like we’re fake because, you know, we’re so happy at times. Like what is wrong with being happy? What is wrong with having a happy childhood? What is wrong with having a wonderful family? People will say, ‘We only want you on the cover of this magazine if you tell us about your problems. Did you ever really, like, scratch your sister real bad, like, make a huge scar on her face? Or were you on drugs?’ When you say no, they’re not interested in you. Like, what’s wrong with being a great role model? I think society needs to start praising the good. They’re always praising the people on crack. They need to start praising the ones who are off crack.”

The twins sprang from their chairs and gave each other high fives.

They had to have rehearsed that.

“No, we did not!” Tamera said as she and Tia fell back into their chairs, laughing.

They say they’ve lost “tons” of roles because of their beliefs. “We get a lot of movie scripts where the women are hoochie-coochie girls,” said Tamera. “They’re always sleeping around, the whole stereotype for a black actress.” Tia: “I am not happy with the movies coming out for black women. They’re always either the gangbanger or the girlfriend of some drug dealer.”

It’s not for them.

Nor is the blatant sexiness of some TV series, including the WB’s popular teen drama, “Dawson’s Creek.” Tamera rolled her eyes. “I don’t agree with all the sex on TV right now,” she said. “I mean, our generation is different than ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ But I think we can do it [discuss sex] in a positive way.” As in the twins’ favorite show, the WB’s “7th Heaven.”

Tamera: “They deal with sex.” Tia: “They deal with drugs.” Tamera: “But they do it the right way. They don’t . . .” Tia: “Glorify it.”

The sisters speak of being tested by God. “Every day is a test, because we live in the flesh,” said Tia. “And the flesh is a mess,” said Tamera.

“We’re young women now, and we like guys, and that could be a test,” said Tia. The sex test? “Yes. You’re constantly tempted to do something the Bible tells you is wrong. The wisest thing is to not do that and to hold out.”

A big test in the twins’ past was ABC’s cancellation of “Sister, Sister,” which baffled and hurt them. “We grew in that process as Christians,” said Tamera. “We gave it to the Lord and said, ‘Maybe he didn’t want us to be an ABC show.’ We said, ‘We’ll put our trust in you.’ Right after that, the WB picked us up. And we honestly believe if we had been on ABC, we wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

That trust in God endures. Weren’t they worried that this interview, conducted by a nonbeliever, was meant to ridicule them and make them appear foolish in print?

“People may persecute me, but it’s not going to stop me,” Tamera said. Besides, she added, “God sent you to us.”

“Yes,” said Tia. “God did.”


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