DENISE MARTIN — Sherri Shepherd is not afraid to use her pain for a laugh. In July, "The View" co-host got her first Brazilian wax on camera, and this week, Lifetime premieres "Sherri," a semiautobiographical comedy she stars in about her life after a messy divorce. Her next project, the Sundance film "Precious," will be released in November.
It's been three years since you joined "The View." Have you recovered from telling Barbara Walters that you didn't know if the Earth was round or flat?
Oh, girl. People hated me for that. I didn't think it was a big deal until I realized I was the second most Googled person in the country. It was a brain fart! It was my second or third day on "The View," and I just got nervous. Barbara asked me if it was round or flat and I said, "I don't know, I'm just trying to take care of my kid." When the show was over Barbara came over and said "Dear, the Earth is round," and I said, "Barbara, I know that!"
But you know I also got hundreds of comments from women that said, "You know what, Sherri, I don't care if the Earth is round or flat either, I'm trying to get my ex-husband to see my kids," or "I'm just trying to work this job and take care of my family." There were so many letters of support. That was actually the inspiration for my book "Permission Slips."
What do women need permission for?
Women are trying so hard to be perfect, and we just got to give ourselves permission to say, "It's OK that I made a mistake as long as I can get up, keep smiling and keep going." You ever said anything stupid? I'm your patron saint.
How did your divorce turn into the basis for a sitcom?
My husband had this affair, so I was going through this divorce and I had started doing stand-up about it. The producers of my last show, "Less Than Perfect," knew my husband, so when they heard some of my material they started crying and then they were laughing and then crying again. They said to me, "This is the show we want to do. This is very real. Women will be able to relate to this." When we screened the pilot, people were howling. They were stomping on the floor. And they were of all colors, because this is a subject that has no color. It is pretty universal. Ask any politician.
You've been vocal about wanting to date on "The View." The men who visit seem to be interested.
I know, right? Russell Brand hit on me. He told me he would make me see stars and forget my name. I ran into the writers room of "Sherri" after that one. Craig Ferguson was flirting with me too. I'm going to Europe on my next vacation because apparently they love black women. Skip going to Cancun. I'm going to London and then a pit stop in Scotland and I'm coming back with a man.
Truth: Does Elisabeth Hasselbeck get a bad rap?
She does, but I always tell people she's a tough little cookie. Elisabeth does not want your pity. The thing is, nobody's trying to change anybody else's minds. When the arguing starts, I just kind of lean back. This Republican-versus-Democrat discussion has been going on for years before I got there, and I'm not trying to bring nothing new to it.
But do you want to?
During the election, I was very impressed by Sarah Palin at first, so I spoke up. I was all on Elisabeth's side. Then Sarah started saying some stuff crazier than even what I say, and I'm going, "I just can't go there with you, Elisabeth." Sometimes I'll add to the fray, but . . . I don't even know if they're listening to me.
You have a small role in the film "Precious," the true story of an abused, overweight girl. It's just about as serious as I've ever seen you.
The director, Lee Daniels, called, and I auditioned for that part. I came in and improvised my scene and made Lee laugh, like he was cracking up, but then he came over and said, "I don't want anything funny. You are a woman in pain. People know you for all your teeth, and your smile and those boobs -- I don't want any of that." I said, "Lee, I don't know how to do anything else!" But he pushed me, and thank God it worked. He did let me have my light moment at the end with Lenny Kravitz, but I literally had to beg for that.
There's a lot of talk Mo'Nique will get an Oscar nomination for it.
Oh, yeah, I'm so excited about all the attention she's getting. She's very calm about it. That's Mo'Nique. See, I'm different. I'm running around screaming and going, "I can't believe this is happening." Mo'Nique is like, "This is all in the plan. I knew this was going to happen." She's very Zen.
On your Twitter, you write a lot about being a mom to your 2-year-old. But there is a lot of talk about Donnie Wahlberg too.
I worshiped New Kids on the Block. Donnie has always been fine to me. He's like wine, girl. When they came on "The View," Whoopi [Goldberg] and Joy [Behar] let Elisabeth and me do the interview because we were like such school girls; they said they'd take Tony Bennett when he comes.
The thing about Twitter is that I forget I have 130,000-plus followers, and I keep thinking I'm just talking to my friend in Minnesota. I absolutely could not handle a one-on-one with Donnie Wahlberg.