Sherri Shepherd: Permission to Laugh
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CBN.com Actress, comedienne, and co-host of ABC’s The View, Sherri has rebounded from her share of mistakes. Sherri Shepherd may be best known for making us laugh, but there were times when she could barely crack a smile. Sherri was raised in the Jehovah’s Witness faith and from an early age believed that being good meant following her religion’s rules. She broke her first major rule at age 14 and she became curious about boys.
When her parents told the elders in their Kingdom Hall, she was put on “reproof,” meaning she was forbidden to look at or speak to boys.
At age 17, Sherri moved with her family to California. That’s when she met her first boyfriend and the cycle of bad relationships began. Sherri naively dated an arsonist and thief before she met her biggest challenge.
“I cringe when I think of all the dumb situations I put myself in,” she says.
She married a man who told her, point blank, that he could not be monogamous and believed that she could change him once they married. When Sherri became pregnant, she suspected her husband was cheating. He admitted that he was and that the young woman with whom he was having an affair was also pregnant. The marriage ended in 2006, and Sherri continues to work as a single mom.
After toiling by day as a legal secretary and struggling at night as a stand-up comic, Sherri faced the difficult decision of leaving the security of her secretarial job to pursue acting and stand-up comedy full-time. A good friend said to her, "If it was all about stability, then you wouldn't need faith!" With those words of encouragement, Sherri stepped out and quit her job. Nine days later, she was cast in her first role on the WB's Cleghorn.
Growing up, Sherri began to seriously disagree with some of the regulations placed on her by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The final straw occurred when church elders asked Sherri and her sisters to stop speaking to their father because he began to doubt the wisdom of the elders.
“How could my faith order me to turn my back on him?”
Sherri is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness and is a sincere Christian. “My faith means everything to me. God and I talk constantly.”
Her rededication to the Lord caused her to rethink her stand-up acts, which were often filled with crude humor and foul language. “My grandmother taught me that accomplishments meant less than what you left behind. I started to ask myself what impact my comedy would have on people’s lives. And that changed my act. I got cleaner. I stopped talking about generic stuff like airplane peanuts and started speaking the truth about my gift.”
In 1993 Sherri gave her life to Jesus Christ.
She landed roles on, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends and Living Single and played Ramona Platt on Less than Perfect. “I realized that God gave me this special gift and I have to believe it.”
By this time, Sherri was married. She continued auditioning and landed a part as a regular on Less Than Perfect when she became pregnant with her son through invitro fertilization. Her pregnancy was high risk, and doctors put her on bed rest. The show’s producers were very accommodating. They gave her fewer lines and smaller appearances, so she could stay on the show and keep her actor’s insurance. When the doctors took her off of bed rest, Sherri got one of the biggest calls of her life. It was from producers of The View. She had been a guest co-host several times before Barbara Walters asked her to permanently join the ladies for round-table discussions in 2007.
In 2009, the ladies of The View were awarded with a daytime Emmy for "Best Talk Show Hosts", a first for them and the first time in Emmy's 36-year history that multiple co-hosts had ever won this award.
She recently premiered her new sitcom, Sherri, on Lifetime which airs at 10:00 pm on Tuesdays. The show chronicles Sherri’s life experiences as a young actress, comedienne and wife. Sherri credits the Lord for teaching her about her worth and value in Him.
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