“That very thing that scares you, run toward it.”
Those are the words of advice Sherri Shepherd offers to people wanting to make their dreams a reality.
That mentality has worked in Shepherd’s favor. She’s risen among the ranks of the entertainment industry to land her own talk show, The Sherri Shepherd Show, which debuted in September. The show, which has featured guests including Method Man, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tabitha Brown, Misty Copeland, John David Washington and a surprise visit from Janet Jackson, has been one of the biggest milestones of her career. Shepherd’s not done dreaming big, but she’s intentional about taking some time to smell the roses and appreciate just how far she’s come.
“This is probably the only time where I said I’m not gonna think about all the other stuff,” says Shepherd. “This time, I want to sit down and enjoy where I’ve come. I feel like I’ve arrived.”
So before she goes on to manifest her next goal, Shepherd is taking time to relish in the success of achieving her lifelong dream: bringing joy and laughter to others. “My vision for the show is, I want people to leave feeling better than when they came,” says Shepherd. “I think that people are tired in their spirit. We’re inundated with news of gloom and doom. I want people to turn on [the show] and just laugh, and go, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t laughed like that in so long!’ I want people to be inspired. I want women my age to feel like they’re not forgotten. And I want young women and people to say, ‘What is Auntie going to do today?’”
She’s undoubtedly grateful for her on-screen family, but the people who bring Shepherd the most joy are her loved ones at home. “My family, in this entire journey, they showed up for me,” says Shepherd. “They showed up at my comedy club. They showed up when I bombed and said, ‘Sherri, are you sure?’ and when I said this is my dream, they stuck by me. They paid my rent when I wasn’t able to do it, because I was a struggling comic and struggling actor.”
Perhaps Shepherd’s biggest fan is her son Jeffrey, but she says her move earlier this fall from Los Angeles to New York (where The Sherri Shepherd Show is filmed) has helped give her son his much-needed independence. Months later, the Emmy-winning personality has embraced the Big Apple just as much as it has welcomed her.
Photo: Noam Galai, Getty Images for Hertz
Yes, indeed, life is looking sweeter than ever for Shepherd, who can now look back on her “struggle years” with some of her best girlfriends and appreciate just how far they’ve come. “My girlfriends who I’ve come up with—Niecy Nash, Kym Whitley and Tisha Campbell—I’ve known them for over two decades,” she says. “ We had no money. You should’ve seen our wigs back then! They were raggedy! And through the years, we held each other up.”
For Shepherd, the key to her success and the life lesson that she wants to share with others is to stay positive, grateful and, perhaps most of all, honor where you are so you can get where you want to go.
“So many people talk themselves out of a dream because they make it too big,” she says. “Start right where you’re at, and then expand.”