Everybody Loves Reagan
written by: iman n. milner
“If I could look back and tell myself anything—it would probably be to act on what I feel and to just know that it’s going to be ok.” That self is a 15 year old Reagan Gomez who, at the time, was the apple of every teenage boy’s eye and the young costar to Robert Townsend on his series The Parent’ Hood. By the late 90s, sweet faced Reagan was a household name and her squeaky clean TV image combined with her ageless good looks had many convinced that there was only one side to her…but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Can I cuss?” she says as she readies herself to explain the woman she is today, after receiving permission to be completely honest she continues, “I’m a mother now, I’ve experienced so much and come through on the other side—it’s simple, I just no longer have time for the bullsh**”.
Though she still looks every bit the part of Zaria Peterson, after over a decade, the new Reagan Gomez is stronger, wiser and much more in control than in the past. The trajectory from teenage sitcom star to wife, mother, producer and still working actress is nothing short of impressive. As we’ve watched so many of her peers fade into obscurity, Reagan has managed to not only stay relevant but to also remain a force in the industry. But like many teenage stars, she first had to learn a few vital lessons about herself and the business before she arrived to this new place of stability.
After leaving her hometown of Detroit, MI and relocating in Philadelphia at the tender age of 8, Gomez immersed herself in theater and found her calling in acting. Her success there and in the neighboring big city of New York, led her mother to take a chance on her on America’s second largest stage, Los Angeles. Within a week, Gomez booked The Parent Hood and dived headfirst into the industry. “I was a fish out of water in many ways. It was all new to me. I had this freedom but at the same time, I had to look out for myself in a whole new way”, she says. While many of her peers were finding reasons to become jaded from the rigors of success, Reagan instead maintained a level of morale and a candid self-acceptance that earned her respect and staying power. When Parenthood ended in 1999, she booked a series of small roles before she landed the role of Francine on CBS’s Love, Inc. Though the show was short lived, audiences got to see a new side of the young actress as she showcased a wittier, more mature set of chops. In 2009, she became “Roberta Tubbs” on the Family Guy spinoff comedy; The Cleveland Show and a whole new set of TV viewers were once again introduced to Gomez’s never ending talent. But even with TV and film success, Reagan knew that inevitably being one of the few actresses of color to receive major network roles was not going to be enough. So she decided to step behind the camera and start a production company where she could give up and coming artists a shot. She kicked off her new venture with the short film, This Time in 2010 in which she partnered with young actor Michael Moss and rising film director, Matthew Cherry.
“You can’t just be an actress”, she explains sternly, “you can’t just go to auditions or wait for opportunities because they may or may not come, you have to create your own opportunities and then you have to create opportunities for others…. and hopefully that pattern continues and you see more people like you with a platform.” Wearing a new hat while juggling the duties of wife, as she’s been married for over 10 years to husband Dewayne Turrentine, and mother of two has aided in Gomez’s new sense of self that she often flexes on the ever popular social network, Twitter. She’s not shy about engaging her 93,000+ followers in heated debates about everything from minority film’s international success to the trials of being a working mommy but perhaps what has stood out the most is her fearless support of President Barack Obama. Going where most celebrities often shy away from, Gomez’s political banter caught the eye of one of Obama’s aides and landed Reagan a spot on his reelection campaign team. Her no holds barred commentary on the GOP candidates has been the center of much attention as well as her open support of women’s rights and many of Obama’s recent polarizing decisions. And even though she admits “I really became invested when he was elected”, she’s taken the necessary steps to become educated on the issues and now travels around the country getting voters registered and being more than just a strong opinion behind a computer screen. “People can’t be lazy”, she says, “at first people didn’t like how political I was and they would say things like ‘stick to acting’ and I’d tell them to kiss my a**, it’s my Twitter and you can always unfollow me—if you have a voice, now’s the time to use it.”
Having seemingly tapped into all of her talents, it’s no surprise that Gomez is looking to expand her family as well as her body of produced works but don’t bother expecting some grandiose plan to take over the world. What she wants most of all from herself is to have succeeded in being the woman that Reagan can look in the mirror and be proud of. “Whether I was in this business or any other business, I’d want my legacy to be the same thing; I want to be that chick that everyone could talk to, I want people to see a little bit of themselves in my story, in my focus and in my refusal to give up”, she says.
She’s already beaten the odds that so many before her have succumbed to. She’s still one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood and has remained humble and true to herself in the midst of all of her successes. She’s no one trick pony and she’s no attention starved blog star. Reagan Gomez is any many ways the everyday woman: working hard to stay on top and never forgetting to reach back and pull someone else up with her. It’s why we loved her then, it’s why we love her now and without a doubt, it’ll be the reason we love her many years from now when she’s ready to pass the torch.
Photography: Stella Simona & Caleb Wilson
Stylist: Seth Brundle
MUA: Britt Garrison
Hair: Rianna Devine