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PUM Goes One On One With Sherri Shepherd

(October 19, 2009)
An American comedienne, actress, and co-host on the ABC daytime talk show, The View. As an Actress she's perhaps best known for her role on the sitcom Less Than Perfect as Ramona Platt.
Sherri will be coming to Pittsburgh to participate in The Good Taste Pittsburgh Food Show-Saturday, November 7, 2009. For more information: www.goodtastepittsburgh.com.
PUM: Tell us about your visit to Pittsburgh what do you hope to accomplish? Have you ever been to Pittsburgh before?

Shepherd: "I'm excited that I'm coming to Pittsburgh! I'll be there on Saturday, November 7th at the Good Taste Pittsburgh Food Show, which is at the new Monroeville Convention Center. I'll be speaking to the crowd at 1pm and taking questions, followed by a book signing with my new book "Permission Slips." I've never been to Pittsburgh and can't wait to meet everyone!"
PUM: It is no secret that you are a a single mother, and you wear many hats professionally, how do you manage to accomplish all of the goals you set for yourself?
Shepherd: First and foremost, I am a mother. My son Jeffrey is my first priority. Elizabeth Hasselbeck once said to me "there will be a lot of spinning plates in your life. Don't let your son be one of them." That is pretty much my mantra on how I accomplish things. If it conflicts with me being a mother and raising my son, I have to say no, which is why you don't see me doing the Quick Step and the Salsa on Dancing With The Stars. Every season they ask, but I would have to be away from Jeffrey for 12 weeks (I'm just assuming I'd make it to the final three), and being a single mom, I wouldn't have anyone helping me with Jeffrey...so that's a NO.

PUM: Following your career on the "View" describe what it' is like on a daily basis to work with your co-hosts. You really seem to hold your own and confidently express your point of view, where does that confidence come from?

Shepherd: Being a co-host on The View is a dream job. I look to my right and there is my idol, Whoopi Goldberg. I look to my left and I'm sitting next to a woman who's trail blazed a path for me to do what I do. She has interviewed every head of state and is an icon. And then I sit next to Joy, who keeps me laughing in between the camera breaks with her baudy jokes. As a mother to a 4 year old, I bond tightly with Elizabeth who has a 4 year old daughter. I absolutely love working with these amazing, funny & intelligent women. They challenge me. They inspire me. They encourage me, and when I need a shoulder, there's four of them on any given day.

My confidence comes from these ladies constantly lifting me up. Barbara said to me once "if I didn't think you could do this job, I wouldn't have asked you to sit at the table." Barbara's not one to mince words. I read, I research, and when I speak, nobody puts me down for my opinion. That helps.
PUM: What are you most proud of so far in your life?
Shepherd: I'm most proud of my miracle... my son, Jeffrey. He was born at 24 weeks weighing 1 lb 10 oz. My wedding band fit over his arms. He was born with severe brain bleeding, a hole in the artery near his heart... a hole in his intestines. The doctors gave him a diagnosis of severe cerebral palsey and mental retardation. They predicted multiple surgeries during his lifetime, shunts in his brain. No one thought he'd be able to speak or jump. My son has fought since he was born and is still fighting. Things don't come easy to him, but he continues to fight. He does not have CP or any form of mental retardation, but he does have developmental delays and has numerous therapy to help him overcome challenges, but his struggle to victory - is what I'm most proud of.
PUM: Losing weight in public -how do you feel now?
Shepherd: I feel a tremendous amount of pressure. Normally I go through weight gains and losses privately. To actually share this with the world... whew. But maybe I needed that accountability factor. Because every time I look at a chocolate chip cookie, I think TMZ is around the corner filming me. So I order a salad instead. I feel great in terms of energy. Having two jobs is physically demanding, but because my body is in shape, it makes so much easier to get through the day.
PUM: What are you passionate about in terms of social causes? It has been reported that you have graciously agreed to serve as spokesperson for the YAI Network, a 52-year-old non-profit serving people of all ages with developmental and learning disabilities and delays and their families. How did you make that decision to serve in this position?

Shepherd: I work closely with the March of Dimes, because many of the things that saved my son's life while he was in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit was a direct cause of the research of the March of Dimes. They work tirelessly to prevent premature births. I also work with the YAI Network, which provides early intervention, healthcare, residential placement and employment to name a few for people of all ages with developmental disabilities. They serve 20,000 people a day. They have worked with Jeffrey for the past two years, and the change in my son is nothing short of miraculous. When YAI evaluated him two years ago, he was only speaking in two word phrases. Now he can actually hold an entire conversation. I am grateful to YAI for helping children with developmental delays reach their full potential to lead happy, independent and productive lives.
PUM: Have you adjusted to the single life yet?
Shepherd: I'm laughing really hard at this question! Does one ever adjust to being single after being in a relationship for over a decade (smile). I am adjusting. I'm having a great time discovering who Sherri is without someone attached at my hip. Don't get me wrong... sometimes a hip attachment is a great accessory! There are wonderful things about marriage, wonderful things about being in a relationship and wonderful things about being single. So while I'm in this season of singleness, I'd like to discover those wonderful things. For instance, one of my best friends, Niecy Nash ("Clean House", "Reno 911") and I are leaving the kids behind and taking a two week trip to Italy and France. Not so sure if Europe is going to be safe with Niecy and I trekking through it, but we're very excited.
PUM: With the premiere of your own sitcom, "Sherri" (Lifetime, 7 p.m.), you play a recently divorced woman who's working as a paralegal but wants to be an actress-what personal experiences do you bring to that role that help your character? Also, according to the Nielsen rating system, your sitcom is the most-watched original comedy premiere on the network in more than ten years, wow, what a great start.
Shepherd: Well since 80% of the sitcom is my life, I am bringing everything I got to the character I am playing! I am trying to find my way now as a single mother, and in the sitcom the character Sherri is also trying to find her way. We just finished an episode where my son tells me he hates me, and how I have to deal with that for the first time. I go through that with Jeffrey (he's four, so I haven't heard that phrase yet) and his tantrums. The character is now single after her husband (played by Malcolm Jamal Warner) cheated on her, and she's trying to figure out her place as a single woman. Hey that's Sherri Shepherd all the way.

The fact that our ratings went through the roof is a testament to how much women connected with the themes of the show. I've been getting many tweets from single mothers saying thank you for having a story they could relate to... same thing from women who've gone through a painful divorce, and even tweets from women who's marriages have suffered from infidelities and children born from affairs.
PUM: In October, you joined Mo'nique and Wanda Sykes -three African American women, veteran comedians, all who are fortunate to have new talk shows-is this a special time for African American female comedians? What do you attribute this opportunity to for all of you?
Shepherd: I don't believe that this is a "special" time for African American comediennes. You named Mo'Nique, Wanda Sykes and me.... that's only three comediennes out of hundreds of very funny African American comediennes out there. I think this opportunity has come because we've paid our dues. This has not been an overnight success for any of us. For years, we've struggled, we've hustled, we've put in the late hours at the comedy clubs to hone our craft and when the opportunity came, we were prepared.

Read more about Sherri on her official website:
http://sherrishepherd.com/AboutSherri/tabid/55/Default.aspx
 
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