Sherri Shepherd is a seasoned veteran in the world of stand-up comedy and television and, now, the talented actress is dipping her toes into the film world and adding the title producer to her long resume.
It seems like it was just yesterday when Shepherd was sharing her colorful opinions about every-thing on the day-time talk show “The View” and it was during this point of her career that she be-came part of television history in the role as co-host of [“The View”] during seasons, 11-17. Her dynamic personality added to the popularity of the show, and it helped earn the seminal talk show its only Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2009. That same year, she and her co-hosts were included in the list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine, and Forbes ranked the show’s hosts No. 11 among the top “30 of the Most Influential Women in Media.” Shepherd returned to “The View” as a contributor for Season 19.
Today, along with a starring role in NBC’s comedy, “Trial & Error,” Shepherd serves as a weekly host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and as executive producer and host of the upcoming cooking series “Holy & Hungry.” She has also made recent guest appearances on “The Soul Man,” with Niecy Nash, and “Rosewood,” starring Morris Chestnut.
As the author of the New York Times bestseller “Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don’t Have It),” Shepherd shares her passion for maintaining good health. She also penned the humorous “Permission Slips: Every Woman’s Guide to Giving Herself a Break.”
Shepherd deems motherhood as her greatest accomplishment. Well acquainted with the tragedy and triumph of raising a child with special needs, she has partnered with the YAI National Insti-tute to raise awareness for children and adults with disabilities. Her son, Jeffrey, is 13-years-old.
Here is an edited conversation with the always hilarious, and sharp Sherri Shepherd.
LAS: Tell me about the character that you play, Anne Flatch, on the NBC show, “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer,” which stars Tony and Emmy Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth.
SS: Ann Flatch, well, this character has a lot of [medical] disorders.
LAS: That’s an understatement but please, keep going.
SS: (laughing) You are right. It’s so many dog-gone disorders: facial blindness. She faints when she sees beautiful artwork. She laughs hysterically when anyone starts talking about murder, she speaks with a British accent when she gets a flu shot. She walks backward under anesthesia. She talks in her sleep. She drives in her sleep.
LAS: I’m hysterical just listening to you describe, Ann. Please, keep going. Is there more?
SS: Is there more? In the new season when she’s startled, she jumps ten feet in the air. When she drinks too much she can set herself on fire.
SS: Yes, her body just lights up. I found a disorder and I’ve asked the producers to give it, to me, [my character] this season where you can have an orgasm, without stop.
LAS: Stop. Wait. You said that you found a real disorder where a person can actually have an orgasm without stopping?
SS: Yes, that’s correct so I asked [the producers] please, can [my character/Ann Flatch] I please, have this disorder. I want a 24-hour orgasm.
LAS: What? Is that orgasm alone or with someone else?
SS: (laughing) Girl, I don’t care! I want a 24 orgasm, are you really thinking about anyone else? When they have it, they just have an orgasm in front of anybody and I said ‘oh yes, that’s is so my disorder, I want THAT disorder where you start moaning … and …. just …. (laughing)
LAS: (laughing) Sherri, your character would end up with a meme with that disorder.
SS: OK! I love it [meme]. It’s so much fun to do this character.
LAS: You really bring life to this series and to Miss Ann Flatch. I’m not exactly a fan of the show be-cause the characters in “Trial and Error”, remind me of Trump voters, God help us all. Like, I struggle to like most of them.
SS: (Laughing, hard) Well, they are a little weird, they are.
LAS: You’ve been in the television industry for a long time, so congratulations on that.
SS: Thank you. I am blessed. I feel so blessed that people still appreciate what I am doing. I love it.
LAS: What have you learned from working on NBC’s comedy “Trial and Error,” and your quirky char-acter [Ann Flatch] and all of her disorders?
SS: What I learned about the character’s disorders [ in research] was about the actual neurology dis-orders that many people suffer from, actually. The different posts on Facebook from people that have [some] of these disorders is that no matter what, they still have to make a life for yourself.
You know what I mean?
LAS: I do. I most certainly, do.
SS: You still have to find joy even if you have facial blindness, which is called Prosopagnosia, which is a cognitive disorder of face perception in which the ability to recognize familiar faces is gone. You don’t recognize your wife, you don’t recognize your kids. You don’t recognize your own face but you still have to live a productive life, and the question looms, ‘how do you do that?’. That was one of the questions that I had for my character, how do you faint every time you see beau-tiful artwork and not recognize people and still be happy about life? So, that’s what I learned. How to take that and put it inside a character.
LAS: Let’s rewind to your beginning. I admire your journey. You’ve overcome a lot of challenges, and I am still moved by you sharing that in your early days, in Los Angeles, you took the bus. You never gave up. I love that about you.
SS: Thank you. You have to hold on to the dream. You have to know that no matter what the cir-cumstances are, no matter what happens, the dream is not going to change. So for me, holding on to that dream is what held me up. [The dream] It’s what got me up in the morning, that dream and I never let it go even through all the rough times. I never let it go. I still hold on to it now.
LAS: Holding on to the dream is why you are in a position to build your legacy. Proud of you. Let’s talk about your production company?
SS: I’m producing a one-man show about a comedian named Scruncho (Antony “Scruncho” McKi-ney) who went from being a hustler to becoming a comedian. I thought his story was impacting and compelling, and I produced it [as a one-man show] for six weeks. It was sold out. So now we are bringing it back because some executives from TV One are coming to see it. And I am very excited about being a producer, in that aspect.
LAS: Any plans to go on the road and hit the comedy clubs, funny lady?
SS: (laughing) You are funny. Well, I have a lot of different ideas that I’ve been throwing around, those ideas with different comediennes, including Wanda Sykes, Loni Love, Kim Whitley, and we decided to go on the road together to make some people. So, things are coming down the pipe-line.
LAS: You are an author of the New York Times bestseller “Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Dia-betes (Even If You Don’t Have It). So what type of foods do you love, in L.A., keeping diabetes in the forefront?
SS: Great question. I am a type two diabetic and [as of file date] I am almost 130 days off sugar. I am very careful about what I eat. I love green brussels sprouts with garlic. I love salmon and scallops. I love some good bacon. I love bacon. I love Sky’s Gourmet Tacos, on Pico and La Brea and they make the most delicious salmon tacos and I get it with lettuce instead of a tortilla. I love it so much, that I will drive all the way from where I live, which is a 45-minute ride, for this gourmet taco shop. That’s my favorite. That’s my place girl, I went there for Mother’s Day with my son, Jeffrey.
LAS: Let’s talk about being a mother to a teen, shall we?
SS: Yes, we shall. My son [Jeffrey] is 13-years-old. 13. Girl, it’s a whole new world parenting a teenager. They’re hormonal. He wakes up crazy moody, challenging me on everything. Saying that ‘I’m not hip, I’m not this or that’ but then he will come around, and confess, and says, ‘mommy, I love you so much.’ So, these hormones, are raging in and out. He’s just so yummy. He’s literally my best friend and I love him.
LAS: Whenever you speak about your son, especially in the past, I could tell that he was your best friend.
SS: Yes. He’s my best buddy. I do love being a parent but it’s an adjustment. Like I said (laughing) he’s 13 so it’s a new day, I am just trying to figure it out.
LAS: So what else is new? Any films on the horizon?
SS: Yes. I have my first dramatic lead role in the new film about Brian Banks which is based on a true story.
LAS: I think I remember this, yes, please continue.
SS: No problem, it’s a true story about Brian Banks, the football player who at 17 years old was re-cruited by USC (University of Southern California) and was attending Long Beach High School when he was falsely accused of rape by a fellow student. The film is really about how the justice system failed Brian Banks. He was sentenced to six years in an adult prison at the age of 17-years-old, and he served his time in an adult prison. And after serving those six years, he was sentenced to an ankle brace for an additional six years. So, his dreams of playing football were crushed.
LAS: That’s heavy stuff. What’s the film really about, if you can share?
SS: At the core of this film is redemption It asks a bigger question, like how does a person forgive? How does a person keep going? Eventually, the girl [who accused him] contacted him and on tape, confessed that she lied about him raping her. So [Brian] he got the innocence project to represent him and then he was exonerated. The film is directed by Tom Shadyac (Bruce Al-mighty) and stars Greg Kinnear. This is my leading dramatic role. She literally helped him get through the challenges of prison and showed him how to have faith.
LAS: That sounds like a Sherri Shepherd project, standing on faith.
SS: Right, again, I am blessed.