Tabitha Brown Talks Tackling Tough Topics for Kids Through ‘Tab Time’
Tabitha Brown has been dubbed “America’s Mom.” And whether you follow this vegan’s viral videos across social media or read her now NAACP Image Award-winning book Feeding the Soul, you’ll find it’s a designation hard to argue.
She brings that trademark uplifting warmth to the YouTube Originals series Tab Time. Produced by Kids At Play, show is geared to preschoolers, but adults can also learn a thing or two from stepping into Tab’s Lab. Over the course of 10 episodes, Brown takes a fresh approach to a number of topics like “What Makes Family A Family” and “Lending A Helping Hand.” A list of celebrities including Cynthia Erivo, Cheryl Hines, and Lena Waithe also stop in for a visit.
Brown, who drove for Uber to help make ends meet just a few years ago, showcases her inspiring spirit of overcoming adversity in everything she does. Before the last episode of Tab Time Season 1 drops, we caught up with the star to talk about the show’s impact.
What does it mean to win this second NAACP Image Award, for the second year in a row?
Tabitha Brown: It’s pretty mind-blowing. It means so much to be recognized for living your truth and telling your story. It also means it was all worth it. Every obstacle, struggle, and heartache. Every big dream I kept pushing for each day.
Any celeb fan that may surprise people?
Nicki Minaj! It still blows me away that she follows me and messages me. Cardi B is the same. To know people look at me like a friend or a mom is amazing.
Parents have messaged you about how Tab Time resonated within their households. Talk a little about the love and care that went into its development.
The thought of doing a children’s show came from a loving place. A place from wanting to heal the world. It never felt like a job. It felt like I am doing something that is going to help children and families around the world. My heart was full every day. I cried almost every day [on set] because I was so grateful. To see parents post videos with their kids responding to the show and how they get excited, laughing, dancing, singing—it feels like such a major accomplishment. Our heart leads us and will take us to the right place. I hope it stays with children and families forever.
Was there any topic you tackle that was particularly challenging to convey in this environment?
I have always known how to simplify things and to handle them with care. There are certain ways we have to express things. We had an amazing writers’ room that understood the assignment. How things grow: It seems simple to hear how things grow when it comes to fruits and veggies, but also as a person. You go from being a little human and growing and changing. Feelings will change, and sometimes we will feel a certain way. We’re validating that and telling them it’s okay. It’s one of my favorite episodes.
What can you tell us about the last episode of the season?
It is the “Goodbye” episode. I think it’s so hard for a lot of people to say goodbye and understand goodbye, especially children. There are so many levels to goodbye. I want them not to be afraid to say it. To not feel so much pain attached to a goodbye.
Much like Sesame Street or Pee-wee’s Playhouse, you have your share of guest stars. How was it joining in on the fun?
No matter who they were, they all became children on set. I directed everyone in having to say, “You do have to be an adult at the moment while playing your character.” We had all walks of life. Karamo Brown played Master Builder Oopsie Daisie. He is very much the distinguished gentleman known for Queer Eye. Always suited and booted. Here he is in floral overalls and a hard hat. He was the cutest thing. He was so committed. We built a fort and played sitting down in it. He was so much fun. Lil Rel Howery was a farmer. He is a comedian, but here he is as Farmer Sprouts teaching us how things grow.
Any potential topics you want to go into for a future season?
My hope is we can go into another season and talk about deeper topics. We have our goodbye episode, but I really want to talk about death. I think children need to know that and understand it. We did a family episode, but I want to do one talking about different kinds of families. Sickness, I want to talk about that as well. Things we don’t see on television for children. They are going through it every day. They are seeing their loved ones getting sick, and nobody talks about that. We need to talk about it in a way they don’t feel alone and it’s normalized. We want to give them a light at the end of the tunnel.
What do you think is missing from many of the current kids’ shows?
I think what we are missing, that I hope I’m bringing, is compassion and patience and kindness and love for each other. Being kind to ourselves and taking time to get to know ourselves so we can be ready to know other people. That’s the message I hope to get across. I’m a slow talker, but especially talking to children. There is a way you can still connect by taking your time with them. Time goes so fast and children are only children for so long. We got to take our time with them.
Beyond kids programing, you took a dramatic turn as Octavia on the Showtime series The Chi. Will we see you in Season 5? Where do you see your acting career going?
I absolutely love acting. I love stepping into a character. I love The Chi. I’m hoping to come back for the last season. I’m hoping to do at least one or two and do something. If not, it was so much fun. I’m reading a lot of new scripts right now. I’m super excited to do new opportunities and possibly develop my own shows theatrically. You will definitely see me again on television or in movies.
Tab Time is available on YouTube