"I was shaking in my boots," the former Disney Channel star tells PEOPLE of taking the stage on the Fox singing competition

By Dana Rose Falcone
April 22, 2021 08:00 AM
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The Masked Singer
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

This post contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.

The Masked Singer panel didn't guess Tamera Mowry-Housley as Seashell until her final appearance on the show during Wednesday's Super 8. Even the actress' twin sister, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, didn't have confirmation that Mowry-Housley was under the sparkling, stylish costume — but she had her suspicions.

"The moment I performed the first time, my phone was blowing up from my family," Mowry-Housley, 42, tells PEOPLE. "My brother, Tahj, and my sister, Tia, were texting back and forth. And they said, 'We know this is you, Tamera. That shoulder and knee pop, it gives it away.'"

THE MASKED SINGER, Seashell
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Their mom Darlene "coached me through every performance" over the phone, the former co-host of The Real says, and her cousin and best friend Jerome Wiggins joined her on set.

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Mowry-Housley's Seashell costume even had ties to her roots. "One of my favorite places to be ever is Hawaii. I was raised there," she says. "My mom's side is from the Bahamas, Eleuthera Bahamas, and Eleuthera Bahamas is probably one of the most beautiful beaches that I've ever seen. I feel like it's home. The beach is home to me and it just made sense [to be Seashell]. I thought she was a great representation of who I am."

Below, the Sister, Sister star talks facing her fears on The Masked Singer, representation on Hallmark Channel and wanting to do a Disney movie.

You've done TV, movies and hosted. Why do The Masked Singer?
It's always been a dream of mine to sing again. I started my Hollywood career in a theater group, actually. I was acting and singing at the same time. It was called Voices and I was 14. And at that same time, I was doing a pilot called Sister, Sister. So I had to focus more on acting, but I always wondered what it would have been if I went that route. I had sang on Sister, Sister, I sing in the shower all the time. The last performance in front of an audience was with my sister. We sang at the Malibu triathlon and it was awesome, but it was a long time ago, so I wanted to revisit it.

SISTER SISTER
Credit: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty

Do you want to focus on music going forward?
Absolutely. I want to do a gospel album, a musical, a Disney film. That would be fun. It was interesting because a lot of the judges, they literally said almost every Disney princess singer out there — Idina Menzel, Anika Noni Rose, Kristen Bell.

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And you have roots on Disney Channel. Which of your many projects do people recognize you for most these days?
Sister, Sister. I still hear that song, and I'm so grateful for it. If it weren't for Sister, Sister, I wouldn't be where I am today.

You had a lot of baking clues throughout the season, too. What did those allude to?
I am in a baking show called Baker's Dozen. It's going to be airing on the Food Network and Hulu. I am obsessed with baking. I always have been. It is a joy of mine, and it's how I pass time. So being able to do a baking show was another dream come true. In 2021, I wanted it to be a year of manifestation. This is the year of making my dreams come true. Being a singer is something I've always wanted to do.

RELATED VIDEO: Tia Mowry-Hardrict on Why Her Best Quality as a Parent Is Also Her Worst

One of your clue packages also mentioned how when you first started your career, you didn't see a lot of people who looked like you. Your sister has talked about being discouraged from wearing her natural hair. Were you insecure at first?
Yeah. We actually wore our natural curly hair for years on Sister, Sister and that is one of the reasons why so many women nowadays come up to me and they say, "Thank you so much for being a representative of that." Around maybe the fourth and fifth season is when you become a woman. A lot of the times people associated natural hair as cute and not sexy. And yeah, a lot of people were straightening their hair. They were putting weaves in. And so there was a shift. I have always loved my natural curly hair. Now, that shift has happened towards women accepting their natural hair and being proud of it. And you get to see more of it in television.

You hinted at your Hallmark holiday movies with a Christmas tree in Wednesday's clue package. What's it been like to work on those movies?
It is hard work. One thing that a lot of people don't know, we shoot a film that normally people would shoot maybe in a month and a half, two months, in three weeks. It's intense. So you definitely have to love what you do. But I love being a part of the Hallmark family. It has been a dream of mine. They represent positivity, family, faith, love. And I am so happy that I am trusted to bring diversity to the channel. They've given me a four-picture deal and I can produce all four. That is a dream come true. And I think it's really important because of how many people watch these Hallmark films. You want to make sure we're making movies that represent everybody. So I'm so grateful for the Hallmark family, that they have welcomed me, my ideas, with open arms.

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You've been in front of the camera for decades, but how did doing The Masked Singer differ?
For me, it was about facing the fear, not hiding anymore, tapping into something that I have loved to do for years and just going for it, taking that big leap of faith. I was shaking in my boots, literally — Seashell had boots. I cried multiple times because there were moments I wanted to run the opposite way, because I hadn't performed in over 20 years. And you are brought into this whirlwind. It was me up against the girl that was afraid to sing, afraid of what people would say, afraid of the critiques, afraid of even succeeding. Every single time I made it to the next round, I was like, "I'm going to do this all over again!" But it was such an amazing journey, and I am a different person because of it. I'm stronger. I had the best time.

Would you have liked to have gone further in the competition?
I knew what I was up against. You can hear the voices. And I am so grateful I made it as far as I did. Yes, would I have liked to have won? Abso-freaking-lutely. But I feel like every person has their own personal journey. I faced that fear every single day and I gave it my all. And that's all you can do is do your best. And my best was good enough for me. I got to do four songs. I'm good.

The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.