Sherri Shepherd: Fearless, Fabulous & Always Funny
Written By: Michelle Emmick (Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder)
Fearless, Fabulous & Always Funny
Sherri Shepherd has always had a captive audience.
The Daytime Emmy-winning talk show host, comedian, actor, best-selling author, and entrepreneur was destined for the mic from her earliest days.
“At that time, I didn’t necessarily know I would have a talk show, but I knew that I liked to talk! I would have my dolls lined up on the chair with a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll in my hand (whichever we ran out of first).”
That was the start of her dreams, and these days Sherri Shepherd is living them BIG, keeping us all entertained with her very own daytime talk show–an authentic, heart-centered, side-splitting 55 minutes of joy and fun. Totally entertaining, just like Sherri herself.
Growing up, Sherri knew how to command a room and make everyone laugh.
“I could make people smile, with the exception of my teachers (although I’m sure they were laughing inside, too). Every report card, every teacher conference, when my parents had to go sit in those little seats, I dreaded it. They would say, ‘Sherri is the sweetest. She gets great grades, but she does NOT stop talking!’”
Even though she may have annoyed a few teachers along the way, her talking kept people laughing through the toughest of times. “And [I] even used it when we moved to the suburbs of Chicago; when there was very loud racial tension, I used my humor to disarm people. It worked.”
There’s no doubt that laughter is Sherri’s superpower, and she’s perfected her craft over the years through her incredible experiences.
Even her first paying jobs provided her material for quick-witted comebacks and communication skills like no other. “I worked in the return department at Sears, followed by the register at Marshall’s.
Customer service was the creme de le creme of jobs.
When you work at the return desk, you [have] the power to say, ‘No, we’re not taking that back! How many times did you wear that?’ Or, ‘Yes. I’m gonna go ahead–don’t say nothin’ to the manager–but I’m gonna give you that refund at the regular price instead of the sale price, which I know you bought it at.’ My words had power!”
After her parents divorced in her teen years, Sherri and her sisters moved with their mother to the west coast.
With dreams of warm weather, Sherri’s mother spun a globe and waited to see where it landed, resolving to move wherever that may be–closest to some sunshine, of course. That place was California, so off they went.
“I admire my mother’s strength so much. She had always been a housewife and [had] never been outside of Chicago. She was terrified but did it anyway–packed me and my two sisters up in a car, got us an apartment, and worked two and three jobs to take care of us. I realize now that I’m older and a parent, the immense sacrifices she made.”
During her time in California, Sherri worked as a legal secretary until making the decision to pursue her dream of being a comedian. That first step towards using her God-given talent was grabbing the mic for a comedy showcase where all her colleagues came to see her perform. “The very first moment I got on stage, it was like this euphoric feeling. To hear that laughter and to think, ‘Oh my gosh, you like me!’ I went out pretty much every night after and would hit any comedy club I could find. I’d be out till two in the morning, taking the bus three hours away. Whatever it took, I had to get on stage.”
As comedy began to fill Sherri’s world with possibility, it also became so much more for her: a lifeline. Sherri shared that, in the midst of her comedy hustle, her mother was suffering from severe complications with diabetes.
“I would leave the club and drive 67 miles to San Bernardino because she’d be in so much pain and needed me. I’d have to drive around for hours and hours because she couldn’t go to sleep. “I’d give my mom her medicine, then I’d drive back to LA to my legal secretary job, hit a comedy club, then back to check on her. When I lost my mom, comedy was the only thing that I had. During those years, I also left a religion that I had been in for a long time. I was really a very shy woman because I had been so sheltered in my life, so being able to get on stage and have this kind of sassy personality where I could be who I wanted and say what I wanted to say was powerful. Standup comedy helped me be able to share what I was going through. To see people laugh made me feel better.”
Sherri continued to use her voice and live her dream, propelling her on a tremendous path of success. She spent seven years as a co-host on the daytime talk show The View, receiving multiple Emmy nominations and winning one in 2009.
Sherri has also won a Boston Society of Film Critics Award, one NAACP Image Awards, and two Gracie Awards. She has starred and guest starred in popular sitcoms like The Jamie Foxx Show, Sex Lives of College Girls, Less than Perfect, Everybody Loves Raymond, 30 Rock, and How I Met Your Mother, just to name a few. She has published two books, one even making The New York Times Bestseller list. She’s hosted game shows, award shows, recorded animated film voiceovers, and has even graced the Broadway stage.
“I don’t take any of this for granted. I went through so many hardships and so much in my life to get here, and I know how fleeting success is–my business especially. I look at my life every day like, ‘Lord, thank you for giving me this chance to do what I love. You made this dream come true, and I’m so thankful for it.’”
Sherri is also quick to recognize all the incredible people who have helped her reach her dreams, especially with her new talk show, appropriately titled Sherri.
“I have a great assistant who’s been with me for 11 years, and I brought on my best friend and industry veteran Jawn Murray, who is a talk show phenom.”
Sherri credits her beautiful friendships for keeping her dreams alive and strong. “Friendship, to me, is everything. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by amazing women.” Niecy Nash and Kym Whitley are two women Sherri leans on. “Being able to call my girlfriends and go, ‘I’m down right now, and I just need a few minutes,’ and know that these ladies will stop what they are doing to lift me up.
It means everything. I encourage every woman to find that kind of support. I don’t like it when I hear a woman say they don’t get along with women because they’re catty–then you’re with the wrong ones, or maybe you need to look at how you are! Whom are you attracting in your life?”
In addition to running her daily show, Sherri prioritizes herself and her family.
“My focus is my son Jeffrey, and I also make sure to give myself some me time. I get up at 4:45 in the morning, and I’m out of that door by 5:15 AM to get to my trainer for workouts. I tell myself this is for my mind and body, and I need to make that time. Every day it’s a choice.”
Whether it’s personally or professionally, Sherri’s advice when it comes to dreaming big is knowing your why.
“You gotta know why you wanna do anything. It’s gotta be something that you love that you know is going to change the world, and with this special gift inside of you, you’re going to impact people. Connect to that because when the going gets rough–and it does and it will–you gotta hold onto something. Our blessings are not just about us, and they come with hard work.” Sherri shared that there are many talented people she’s met and worked with along the way who gave up too soon. “There were people who were funnier than me, more charismatic. They, for whatever reason, chose not to stay in the game. I tell people, ‘you want the dream, you gotta stay in it, stick it out.’”
When it comes to fame, I asked Sherri if she remembers her first ‘I’m famous’ moment.
“I sure do! I was with actor and comedian Garrett Morris from Saturday Night Live; we had been on a sitcom together. We were in a McDonald’s, and somebody recognized me and said, ‘Can I get a picture and an autograph?’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s just me. I’m not worthy; I’m not taking a picture.’ I just felt like, why would you want a picture with me? What it looked like to that person was that I was being arrogant. Garrett Morris said to me, ‘Sherri, they don’t care about all the stuff you’ve gone through. They know that they’ve seen you on TV, and there’s a moment that they want with you. It’ll be the six seconds they will remember positive or six seconds negative, and that’s on you. Let all that go and take the picture because they will always take that with them.’ And I just never forgot that. That’s beautiful and so true.”
Sherri has continued with that “six seconds” concept by always remembering what’s important and keeping those that love her up close and personal, from colleagues to friends and even her studio audience.
“I reached this incredible dream of doing what I love, and I want to make it great for everyone. I go outside before my show to hug people and take pictures with them. To have somebody say to me, ‘Sherri you bring me joy. I brought my mother and my grandmother here, or my niece,’ it’s generational. That’s what I love to see in my audience. Generations of people coming to the show, having a great time, an escape from the craziness, and to know that laughter is changing people’s lives. It’s never been about being famous or signing the autographs; it’s, can I just change somebody’s world for the better?”
Whether it’s film, television, theatre, or comedy, Sherri Shepherd has reached incredible levels and dream-big moments. With her early years and experiences, undeniable work ethic, great friends, personal growth, and the endearing down-to-earth ability to light up a room with laughter, Sherri shows us just how dreams and talent can align with the stars: bright, beautiful, and one of a kind.
Make sure to check out more on Sherri’s hit daytime talk show taped live in NYC in front of a studio audience and find out where to watch in your area by visiting https://www.sherrishowtv.com
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