Recently I sat down with Chicago’s hometown girl Sherri Shepherd who was in town to promote her new television show Trial and Error on NBC. We had a great time laughing and sharing thoughts.
Sherri, I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to view the pilot of Trial and Error but I laughed my butt off. I love the way it’s shot. Can you kind of tell my readers, what it’s about and how it came to be?
Sherri: It’s like Parks and Recreation of an office, but then picture, it’s based off of shows like How to Make a Murder, the Jinx, The Staircase, so picture these murder mysteries as a comedy and it’s a mockumentary of sorts. So, John Lithgow is a poetry professor who has been accused of murdering his wife. He lives in this weird town called East Peck where it’s like probably people in-breed there. There’s something off about everybody in the town of East Peck. They send in a normal lawyer from New York who comes to defend him but he’s got this weird legal team and I’m part of the legal defense team. I’m the legal researcher secretary/receptionist but I’ve got a host of very real disorders. I have facial blindness, I was born with no tear ducts, I’m dyslexic, short-term memory loss, I laugh inappropriately when they talk about murder, can’t stop laughing, when I see beautiful artwork I faint, when I get my flu shot I walk backwards, when I get anesthesia from the dentist I speak in a British accent, I have alien hand syndrome, and these are very real disorders. I talk in my sleep, I drive in my sleep, I know I’m missing some but that’s a good start.
I’m going to say that’s enough and the way you play the part of Anne Flatch is so nonchalant, as if these are normal disorders and everyone has them. The law office is event in a weird place.
Sherri: It’s in the front of a taxidermy shop so we share our law office with the taxidermist so there’s animals everywhere and there’s blood and saws and everything, but that’s very normal to my character.
I have to say that I was worried when I saw that it was going to be on Tuesday nights. You know I’m a This is Us fanatic. I realized it was on NBC and breathed a sigh of relief.
Sherri: Right. Actually we followed This is Us, the finale and now we’re following The Voice. The network is so…I’ve never been in a situation where the network was 100% on board with the show and has given so much love and I’ve been around a long time so this is a very surreal-like feeling so it is very special and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
When do you find time to do everything? You are on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, acting on TV and Film, doing your stand up and being a mother. How do you do it?
Sherri: Yeah, I’m leaving tonight to go to Baltimore to headline at a comedy club and my son says, Mommy, can you tell everybody you have a kid? You know that’s probably the hardest thing, the mommy guilt because you know I’m a single mom, so I’m having to do things just to take care of my son. Thankfully it’s things that I love to do. So, I hope that when Jeffrey gets older he can see that, number one, his mother stepped out on faith and did what she loved to do, but that she sacrificed for him to get the things that he needed. But I pray a lot and go Lord, I give you everything, my career, my relationships, my hearts desires, give me back what You want me to have. Because I can’t do it all. And I’ve learned to say no. I say no a lot, so for all this that you’ve seen me do I say no to a lot of things. I stand in front of the mirror and I just say no 12 different ways. No, no, ghetto no…no, corporate no. I have learned to say no.
No is an complete sentence.
Sherri: It is a complete sentence. And you can always change your no into a yes. It’s harder to change a yes into a no.
That is so true. You are a Chicago girl from the south side.
Sherri: Chicago this is my town.
As a little girl did you ever imagine that you would be here?
Sherri: Not in my wildest dreams. I Instagrammed yesterday about how grateful I was to be in this place. I mean I thought I would be on radio because I used to like have a microphone in my hand and sing, but everybody in my family is funnier than me, I just get paid to be funny. But we would always have variety shows and everybody made everybody laugh. But did I think I would be here at this level? No, I didn’t, but just being here I instagrammed and I said when I left The View I was terrified because I didn’t know how it was going to be…I didn’t know if people in Hollywood would remember me as an actress versus a television personality. My age, I didn’t know if my age would work against me because all these babies seem to be taking over …and I didn’t know how I would be able to support my child. I wasn’t used to being an unemployed actress again. It was so much fear of what am I going to do? And I remember I just heard this soft voice go trust in Me, trust Me. And I was like are you sure you know what you’re doing? Like you always got to tell the Lord like He don’t know and I had to lay it out like okay you know my child got special needs so he’s got to go to certain schools. You know I’m not 16, I can’t be living on people’s couches forever and it was just like trust Me, trust Me. And I believe when you make a move of faith then God comes and He makes a move to complete that move that you made. So, I’m just…I’m so thankful to be a part of such a special show and that has been so well received.
I’m not going to ask you your age…
Sherri: I’m turning 50, I’m turning 50!
Sherri: I can’t believe I’m turning 50. I feel 30. Some days though when the nerves in my right butt cheek start twitching or when I get up in the morning and I’m clearing my throat for 10 minutes but I’m turning 50 and I feel good. I feel…good.
That’s a wonderful age. It really, really is.
Sherri: I’m really looking forward to what 50…Vanessa Bell Calloway we celebrated her 60th jubilee, I hosted a comedy night, she had a whole weekend celebration and she said you know when you get in your 40’s you’re telling everybody forget you, forget you. She said in your 50’s it just changes. You just rest in some stuff. And I’m looking forward to that. I’m really looking forward to what…to me it’s like I’m excited for what this will bring.
What’s next? I mean you know you’ve done the marriage thing, you’re a mommy, so what is that new height that you want to go to?
Sherri: I think it’s now I’m feeling like it needs to be a fearless, a season of just being fearless of just going for it. Of just…I’m pitching things, I’m producing things, of just saying do you know what? Let’s just do it. What’s the worst that could happen? And I’ve never been in that place. It’s just like so going I don’t know how long I got. I want to make an impact. I want to do something that’s going to change the world in my realm. You know I’m not the…I don’t know if I’ll be able to go to Africa and save a bunch of people, but I think I can impact over here and so I’m ready to just go. You know directing, producing, I got a pre-teen who now doesn’t want to let me in his room, he doesn’t want to kiss me on the lips anymore. So, now I’m going into that season of being excited raising up this young man to be able to let him go. So, I’m excited for all of that.
You were the recipient of the 2010 Chicago African American Historymakers award from the DuSable Museum of African American History and with the times and the way things are in our communities now, what can you say to our youth, not even our youth, to all of us on getting involved with knowing our history and creating the history of the future?
Sherri: We have to know our history. In this time period, we got this new monarchy happening, if we don’t know our history, it’s going to be detrimental to our lives and not only us, but our future, the future our kids. And I think it’s so important to get into mentoring and taking one, if you can make a difference in one life, they can make a difference in one life and that just multiplies so that we can let them know…so many kids they don’t even know that half these songs have been made before and somebody else did them, but you probably got the Stylistics that did them that did them before the Stylistics and so I think it’s so important to take that one that you can nurture and pour into that wisdom. I’m looking for somebody for Jeffrey I can’t do it. He’s got to have his mentor. Pour, I think we’ve got to pour into these young people’s lives. There’s an urgency about it because I’m scared. I have a black boy and I’m raising him up in this world and I feel like there’s just an urgency about embracing our young people and letting them know that they are loved, but this is where we came from.
Your hair looks marvelous. I can’t end this conversation without you telling everyone where they can find you new wig line LuxHair.
Sherri: QVC.com, Sally’s Beauty Supply and luxhair.com. Or they can tweet me or just come up to me on the street. All the people at the toll booth in New Jersey they’re like, you know I’m wearing you, right?
Trial and Error can be seen every Tuesday on the NBC network at 8PM Central time.
Until next time, keep your EYE to the Sky