In an age-appropriate role, Tempestt Bledsoe plays a mother of four in NBC's "Guys With Kids." Yet because of her baby face and growing up on "The Cosby Show," people expect her to somehow still be a child, frozen in time.
Bledsoe was Vanessa, the fourth of the five children on "The Cosby Show" (1984-92). Wearing a killer one-shouldered, body-hugging red dress and very high red heels, Bledsoe, 39, reflects on why she was able to resist the pitfalls that engulf so many child stars.
"I wanted to go to college on time, and I did," she tells Zap2it of attending New York University. "When Dr. Cosby found out I was doing that, he moved the shooting schedule" to accommodate her classes, she says.
Decades later, Bledsoe still beams when she says, "He put my grades on his dressing room door."
Bledsoe earned a degree in finance because "I wanted to do something different," she says. "I was surrounded by artists all of the time. I wanted to do something where the answers were right or wrong."
Besides starring on what was consistently the most beloved show during its long run, Bledsoe had a pretty normal childhood.
"I really was in a bubble in so many ways," she says. "I grew up safe and very grounded."
That's evident, even in how she chooses to play Marny in "Guys With Kids." Marny works hard, loves her husband and kids, and just tries to keep everything grounded. Though Bledsoe had done many guest appearances over the years, this is different.
"It is your house, rather than being just a guest star," she says.
Despite her early success (she was 11 when "The Cosby Show" went on the air), Bledsoe says she's aware that acting "is a very capricious field and doesn't reward talent all the time."
Hometown: Chicago. "I am a deep dish fan," Bledsoe says of her pizza preference. "(Lake Michigan) on a lovely summer day. I love snow. Go figure, I find it whimsical when it snows."
Credits: "The Practice," "The Expendables," "Strong Medicine," "South of Nowhere," "The Replacements"
On people recognizing her: "They will say, 'Have we met?' "
Her take on her latest character: "Marny is very much in love with her husband, with her children," Bledsoe says. "She is very passionate about wanting to have a happy home. Gary ( Anthony Anderson) is staying home. Who is best equipped to do this and do that?"
Favorite books: " Stephen King -- all of it, not just the horror. 'It' and 'The Shining.' I read Robert Jordan. Science fiction. 'The Eye of the World.'"
Favorite movies: " 'Lady Sings the Blues,' 'Taxi Driver.' "
Favorite music: "A lot of R&B. A lot of blues. Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline."
Photo/Video credit: NewsCom