One of the co-hosts of The View, comedian/actress Sherri Shepherd has had a busy year. She won an Emmy, wrote a book, Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break, and has a new show on Lifetime. The Sherri Show is vaguely based on her life in stand-up comedy and airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays. Shepherd recently divorced and is raising her son Jeffrey in New York City. She talks about her issues with food, her struggles with weight, and her faith.
Q: You've had a great year. Do you ever get superstitious about all the good stuff happening?
A: Yeah, I always think I'm going to wake up and a lawyer's gonna go, "Stop dreaming and get my coffee," because I was a legal secretary. So I always think, gosh, pinch me, is this real?
Q: How has it been maintaining your 40-pound weight loss?
A: The 40 pounds total is [from] when I first started The View. I had it off for a year and then I started going back to the way I was eating. That's when I decided to do my swimsuit challenge for myself. So far I've been doing good. Now I'm not exercising at the intensity that I had. But I'm doing OK. I have my little indulgences, but my trainer tells me I gotta stop. I have a food addiction. So I don't take weight loss for granted. It's very hard.
Q: There are certain trigger foods.
A: Yeah, I don't eat a lot of sweets, but when I get them, I cannot stop. Like I've been off Pink Berry. We have a Pink Berry yogurt. I've been off of that. I've been sober from it for a year and half. [laughing]
Q: Were you ever a skinny kid or was weight always an issue?
A: Girl, I was in the pre-plus category. I don't know what all the names were; chubby, pre-plus, you know? I've always struggled with my weight. It didn't start being a big deal to me, I think, until I was in high school. Now I'm just trying to be healthy for me. My mom passed away at 41 from diabetes. I have it, so it's not so much I'm trying to get skinny, I just want to be healthy because I have a 4-year-old. I really want to be around for him.
Q: One of your trademarks is how candid you are.
A: It's always been part of my nature because when I was little, my mother would say, "Why do you keep telling everybody everything?" My boyfriends have always had a problem with it, but I've always been that way.
Q: In your book you talk about being in jail.
A: Eight days. It changed my perspective in the fact that I'll never go back. I'll tell you that much. I was going through a period in my life where I was very irresponsible. I used to be a Jehovah Witness, and their teaching was that Armageddon was going to come soon and figured, well if it's going to come soon, then I don't have to pay my bills. I don't have to pay parking tickets. I hadn't paid a lot of parking tickets, and they became warrants for my arrest, so that's why I went to jail. It was irresponsible choices on my part. It did have a silver lining, I'm the kind of person since I went to jail, I don't like bills to come more than once. I am on time with my credit card bills, my car payment, my mortgage, I'm not late.
Q: What was it like to realize you were financially secure?
A: My parents struggled but they never allowed us to think we were poor because my father and mother both worked two jobs to give us what we needed. We kinda thought money was growing on trees because they kept saying, "Money does not grow on trees." But when I finally felt like I was financially secure? I don't think I've ever felt like that. Even though, I guess, you could look at me and go "Yeah you are pretty successful." Things always happen. You know I was in a custody battle for a year, going through a divorce. Anybody who has gone through an ugly divorce knows that attorneys will take your money. And fighting for custody of my son for a year, I went through all my savings. I thank God every day that I have a job to go to. I work really, really hard to make sure my son has a financial future, and me, too.
Q: You survived the cheating husband, and now you are a single mom. Do you think about remarrying?
A: Oh absolutely. I love being married. Except for that little hiccup in our marriage [laughing] of the infidelity. But right now, like what the book says, I give myself permission to say, "It doesn't have to be now." I'm a single woman, and there are really wonderful things about being a single person. I want to find out what those things are. Right now is not the time because I'm working two jobs. I'm trying to take care of my son. I really don't have a lot of time for the distraction of how I make somebody else happy. I'm not chasing it. I mean I joke about it on The View because that's my shtick. But really, truly right now, I'm pretty fulfilled.
Q: The book is a lot about making mistakes and having the ability to move on. You talk about being embarrassed after all the flak with what you said on The View a couple of years ago about not being sure the world was round.
A: It hurt, all the comments that came afterward. It hurt what people said because it was a mistake and nobody wanted to give me that leeway. It seemed like everybody just hated me. But having such wonderful women stand around me and go "We are here for you," especially having Barbara Walters. And other women sending me letters saying, " I don't care if the world is round or flat. I'm just trying to work this job, trying to take care of my kids," that made me feel better. It's OK if you don't meet somebody else's standards. I know what my intention was. I know I made a mistake. I can't spend two or three years trying to apologize. Has it made me more cautious? No. I say things now — I said a word wrong on the show, and Whoopi corrected me and I was like, "Oh well, now I know how to say it." It's just me, and we all make mistakes. My mistakes are just a little more public, but I still get up out of bed, and when I come home I have this kid that goes "Mommy I love you!" That's all that matters.
Q: How have you been able to maintain a strong faith?
A: I think that is why I am the way I am, my faith. Prayer time with God. I remember, two years ago, I was in the middle of Staples and my attorneys called and said, "Sherri it just doesn't look good. We don't think you are going to get custody." I broke down crying. It was just like God was saying to me, "Don't take me out of the equation. Look at everything I've done for you. Look at everything I've brought you through. I'm not going to stop now." The judge just gave me custody two months ago. My business manager told me I was flat broke. "You've gone through your savings." I was sitting here on The View, I'm hyper-ventilating. I called my girlfriend Niecy Nash, and I said, "I don't know what a panic attack feels like, but I think I'm having one!" She prayed with me. My gosh, two weeks later Lifetime calls me up and wants to book a show. So again I can pay my bills. I can get out of debt. I just sent my attorney a check. So how do I keep my faith? I don't take God out of the equation.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Patricia Sheridan is a writer for the Post-Gazette.
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