Sister, Sister star Tia Mowry-Hardrict opened up about the adversity she faced as a biracial child star in the '90s.
"It was very evident to me when I would walk on sets and see how certain stars or actors would be treated who weren't of ethnicity — better dressing room, better trailer," Mowry-Hardrict said while sharing a sneak peek of her new episode of the Tia Mowry's Quick Fix web series, which can be viewed on Kin Network across YouTube and Facebook Watch. "Now I'm like, more aware what that was, which is a budget, but back then I didn't know what a budget was.
"It was so clear how you would see one show that didn't have a diverse cast that just had a bigger budget so everything just seemed bigger and better. But when it came to my projects and what I was doing, you actually really visually saw the less-than," the 42-year-old recalled.
Tia and Tamara Mowry and their mother at the "Are We Done Yet?" premiere in 2007. Photo: MEGA
The mother of two also believes her and sister Tamera Mowry's race played a role in their pay on Sister, Sister. "I remember once the show became a hit, it's very normal for you to ask for a raise. That's what happens, right? People get raises," Mowry-Hardrict said. "But it was always so hard for my sister and I to get what we felt like we deserved, and our paycheck never equaled our counterparts' that weren't of diversity and that was frustrating. Very, very frustrating."
However, she did praise the '90s sitcom for allowing the twins to wear their natural, curly hair on screen. She noted Sister, Sister and her Netflix show Family Reunion were the only two projects that gave her that encouragement. "When I was doing Sister, Sister, I had curly hair and what was interesting was once my sister and I got older and we wanted to be viewed as 'sexy,' we would straighten our hair," the actress recalled.
"I went on to do so many other television shows and I would always wear my hair straight because I was insecure about my curly hair," Mowry-Hardrict confessed. "These insecurities came because I didn't see these images, meaning women with curly hair and their natural hair, being portrayed as beautiful.”
Mowry-Hardrict further shared how she and her twin sister struggled during auditions, revealing Tamera once got told her curly hair "was a distraction" during the audition. "I've been told I'm not Black enough, which was very odd and weird to me," Mowry-Hardrict remembered. "'You don't look Black enough. I think you would fit more of the Latino role.' It's like, what? These were casting directors who did not understand the different shades of Black culture."
Despite the pushback and constant struggles as a teen, Mowry-Hardrict said, "How I was treated is why I built my work ethic.
"Nothing came easy to me. I always had to work harder than. I've always had to be better than average. And I guess if I didn't go through what I had gone through or if I didn't see what I had seen when I was a child, I don't think I would be where I am today," she said, "which is a hard freaking worker. Because guess what? It's hard to outwork someone."
Sister, Sister — which can now be viewed on Netflix — first premiered in 1994. "To see the younger generation loving it just as much as our generation did, it's really cool to relive that moment," Mowry-Hardrict told PEOPLE earlier in October. "I think in a way we're experiencing why something becomes a classic."
The mother to Cree, 9, and Cairo, 2, — whom she shares with husband Cory Hardrict, 40 — took to social media over the summer to recount incidents where she saw her family being racially profiled. "Growing up #biracial, mom is black and dad is white, it was very clear to me seeing the #privilege that my dad had as opposed to my #mother," Mowry-Hardrict began to share via Instagram.
"Some examples, during our #sistersister days when traveling for work we would often fly first class. There were several times my mother was asked if she was in the right seat," she continued. "Another incident that stood out for me was when we were buying our first home as a family. My mother walked in the house model with us asking for a brochure. A person had said the houses were sold out. My dad walked in and it was a different story."
The child star concluded her post by sharing that her goal is to see change: "A #change is gonna come. ??."