It doesn’t matter whether or not you respect Sherri Shepherd’s unadulterated opinions as a co-host of “The View” because it’s her job to share them doggoneit. And while the diminutive actress and comedienne has endured backlash for freeing her mind, she has not been deterred from her gift of gab or eternal pursuit of happiness.
A newlywed and mom, Shepherd tackles a balancing act of silver screen debuts in Oscar-nominated films like Precious, co-starring on the Emmy award-winning “30 Rock,” and hosting “The Newlywed Game.”
Shepherd caught up with Blackenterprise.com to discuss the absurdity of Twitter-politics, finding a surrogate to deliver baby no. 2 and why she plans to wig out in business.
Blackenterprise.com: You encourage folks to run toward their fears to come out the victor. What is the one fear that nearly immobilized you?
Sherri Shepherd: My entire life and career I’ve been running toward fear to overcome it. Doing The View it scared me to death when they told me, “We want to have you as a regular.” I said no several times because I liked being in my comfort zone. I’m a standup comic who was raised as a Jehovah Witness and I was taught not to interrupt people which is what I do everyday [as a talk show cohost].
Have any of your coworkers ever asked you to censor yourself?
I remember when I made the big mistake of saying I didn’t know if the earth was round or flat and everyone said, “She’s dumb! Get rid of her!” Whoopi [Goldberg] and Joy [Behar] told me they had my back. Barbara [Walters] said, “If I didn’t think you could do this I wouldn’t have hired you.” I was so nervous about having another brain fart and making a dumb comment, but something was birthed out of that big mistake. It made me go and read up on things because I have to be prepared to give my opinion.
As a Jehovah Witness I wasn’t raised to share my political opinions. Now I’ve accepted that I can’t carry the weight of everyone’s opinion about me on my shoulder. I only have to please an audience of one and that’s God. I have learned over the five seasons I can’t win so I stay true to what I believe.
And thanks to public discourse called Twitter you get all kind of feedback, no?
I know! I get tweets saying, “You’re not classy. I’m not going to support you.” Twitter is like being at a social media club – these are not your friends. These young people have a false sense of reality. You don’t know me and I ain’t telling you my business in 140 characters or less. I’m just giving you the funny stuff.
Indeed, you deliver the funny and the sad. All of America cried with you when you were eliminated from “Dancing With the Stars.”
(Laughs) I worked hard and like a mule you can slap me on the butt and I won’t complain. Everyone was coming up to me saying goodbye and crying. Gladys [Knight], everybody. There was no way I could do any interviews without crying. I just didn’t want to go home. Even my son cried when he realized I wouldn’t be on the show anymore because he had just as much fun as me visiting the set (Laughs).
Despite serving as “The Newlywed Game” host, you don’t consider yourself a relationship expert. What about advising women on surviving a vow of celibacy before getting hitched?
Do you know how difficult it is to tell a young woman or girl with raging hormones not to have sex? I chose to be celibate for 11 months [before my wedding] because I’m a Christian, but during our first year of dating I slipped. [My husband Lamar Sally] took the vow with me because he loved me, not because he’s a Holy Roller. The funny thing is once he agreed I became a horn dog! I remember one time we were away in a hotel and I started chasing him around naked, and he was throwing the Bible at me. So believe me it wasn’t easy! (Laughs).
(Laughs) So he rebuked you! Any chance that you will add to your family?
(Laughs) Yes! My husband never had a child so we’re doing fertility right now and will use a surrogate. And that’s for a reason: I’m 44 and [my body] can barely hold a college girl’s eggs (Laughs). Also, I had such a difficult pregnancy with my son so I don’t want to take that risk.
What’s the best and worst business advice you’ve received?
Sign your own checks – that’s from Oprah. The worst? Listening to friends telling me to pay bills later. I went to jail for eight days for $10,000 of unpaid traffic tickets turned warrants, but hey I’m a Jehovah Witness so I thought Armaggedon would come before I had to pay them (laughs). Now I always pay my bills on time!
It was the worst experience of my life. That night I had a comedy show and wore an outfit that had me looking like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” – thigh-high boots, an Oprah Winfrey-like wig and I was handcuffed to the chair like the rest of the hookers that were there and dressed like me (Laughs). I shudder when I think about it. So again, I no longer rob Peter to pay Paul.
Nowadays how are you expanding your brand?
I’m going back into standup comedy. I have my son so I can’t go on the road, but I did a show called “I’m A Grown Woman” in Atlanta that I plan to tape and sell online. So for about $6.99 you can be entertained for a hour without getting out of your pajamas. My husband explained to me you can get all that money as many times as you want. So we’re taking it back to MC Hammer days when he used to sell out the trunk of his car. We invest and get our money back and then sell it to Comedy Central. Also, I’m launching a wig line and pitching a sitcom to cable networks.
So you plan on taking over the world?
(Laughs) I’m just trying to get out and take a leap of faith and do it; and it’s okay if it fails. As long as I know I tried to give my best while being my authentic self.