‘Our show empowers women of all different shapes and sizes; all different colors,’ Mowry-Housley says
Being real helps ratings.
Emmy-nominated talk show “The Real,” led by women of diverse professional backgrounds including singer Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, comedian Loni Love, fashion expert Jeannie Mai and actress Tamera Mowry-Housley, has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season, proving to be a stand-out in the ultra-competitive daytime television market for an important reason.
“We cut through the B.S. We just say it like it is. We’re not politically correct, and I think now more than ever people want to hear that,” Mowry-Housley, 39, tells Moneyish.
The daily one-hour talk show switched to a live format earlier this year, allowing audience members to interact with the hosts in real time with segments like #GirlChatLive, where viewers can weigh in on hot topics via social media. The discussion is geared toward women, covering topics such as motherhood, relationship struggles and body image. But what really separates the show is the hosts’ willingness to share their most personal anecdotes on-air. (“The Real” airs on Fox, whose parent company share common ownership with Moneyish publisher Dow Jones.)
Love has opened up about how having a miscarriage made her decide not to have children; Mowry-Housley has been candid about making a sex tape with her husband; Mai has divulged the details of her divorce after 10 years of marriage; and Bailon-Hughton shared her experience with sexual harassment in the music industry.
“We get to come to work, be authentically ourselves, and people resonate with that,” says Mowry-Housley. “They just want to see real people with their real thoughts. When women talk about things that they have gone through and overcome, that’s the only way we can actually learn.”
The transparency is paying off. Twenty-three talk shows have launched since the 2010-11 season, and since then, “The Real” and “Steve Harvey” are the only two series to last four or more seasons, Deadline reports. The NAACP Image Award-nominated show also sheds light on the importance of representation, notes Mowry-Housley.
“Our show empowers women of all different shapes and sizes, all different colors, and I think that’s what it’s all about,” she says. “It’s really important for that young girl who has aspirations or dreams, but doesn’t see anyone who looks like her [such as on TV]. When she finally sees someone that looks like her, she feels like, ‘Okay, if they can do it, I can do it, too.’”
And diversity is a major selling point. According to a Nielsen report, 37% of African Americans consume more television than any other group. “The Real’s” primary demographic is women ages 18 to 49, its distributor, Warner Bros, announced in a press release, and since its debut in 2013, it has seen substantial social growth. In just the second season, it was up +14% in ratings nationally, making it only one of four talk shows in the past decade to post a ratings boom in just the second season. The show is also killing it on social media, ranking second in daytime TV to “Ellen,” with more than 450 million YouTube views to date.
The “Sister Sister” alum, who stepped out to promote Febreze ONE in New York City last week, keeps it real inside and out. That means wearing her hair naturally curly, even though she’s been told that it’s “not sexy.”
“In the beginning, I didn’t like my hair because I didn’t see anyone else with it,” she admits. “I went to school in Texas and Hawaii, I was this biracial kid, I didn’t see people with the curls except for my twin sister. I didn’t see it in the magazines. I’ve heard growing up, ‘Oh, it’s not sexy’ … ‘Oh your hair is a distraction,’” says Mowry-Housley. “Then I had my son, and he had these beautiful curly locks, and I remember saying, ‘I love his hair. Why don’t I love mine? It’s beautiful.’ But I had to look at own child and say, ‘You know what? I made that. His curls are gorgeous. He got it from me. I have the curly hair.’”
Now the mother of two says she embraces her natural hair for herself, and for her fans that look up to her as a role model.
“This is me. If I decided to wear a wig because I want to, or straighten my hair; cool. But I’m not straightening it to make myself be more acceptable or to look ‘prettier’ or ‘sexier’ — it’s because I want to. This is how God made me,” she says. “And honestly, it matches my personality. I’m very vibrant and fun and when I wear my curly hair I feel more like myself.
And keeping it real is helping helping girls love themselves, too. “I just recently had a girl that came up to me and said, ‘You know what Tamera? You made me love my curly hair,’” she says. “That’s why I keep doing it. I realized it’s not just for me. It’s empowering.”
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