Sherri Shepherd loves everything about her new daytime talk show, “Sherri.”
She loves the long hours, the guests, her crew and the audience, Shepherd told CNN in a recent interview, because she’s dreamed of hosting her own talk show since she was a little girl.
As “Sherri” joins a busy daytime TV landscape that includes shows by Jennifer Hudson, Drew Barrymore, Kelly Clarkson and Karamo Brown, Shepherd, an actress and veteran of “The View,” talks about how she’s working to make her show stand out .
The interview that follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
CNN: You were on “30 Rock,” a sitcom, and obviously “The View,” how do you feel about having your own talk show?
“It’s a bigger responsibility. … The things I have to do now weren’t ours, Barbara Walters did it all. Meeting with affiliates, going over ratings, trying to figure out segments. We just went in and did it and we went home. We did fun things, going to the plays, reading the books and watching the movies of the guests.”
So what’s in these 15 pages of Oprah Winfrey notes?
“Oprah said this when she talked to me, she said, it’s very sacred ground to do a talk show, because you’re responsible for everything that happens on this show because your name is on it. And so it’s a lot of responsibility. It’s definitely more responsibility when you’re a single host of a talk show. Every week I go to meet affiliates because you need to build goodwill and thank them for supporting the show. And then every week I fly, and it’s always a phone call this guest left. What about this segment? Are you okay with that? We need to track the closet. But I love it.”
Why did you decide to take on all of this?
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was five years old, with the little roll of toilet paper in front of my Barbie’s mouth. When I did my first talk show pilot in 2018, I didn’t stop dreaming- ho. And so when it gets too much, I sit back and thank God for everything, and He brings me back to that place of peace. That’s what I know I wanted to do.
And I hear people say, “I was having a bad day, or I’m going through depression, but I watch your show every day to get it out.” I go, that’s what I was supposed to do.”
Speaking of depression, you’ve tackled some topics that are heavy, like depression and infertility. How do you prepare for these days and know you’ll be equipped for it?
“We have our expert health segment and we had a mental wellness doctor, and I say I know there are people who are trying to figure out how to get out of that darkness, and we’re the conduit to let them know that. That’s the way to do it. – it. I mean, it’s just listening and giving people space to say it because there’s somebody else going through it.”
What is the daily goal of the show?
“My mission is that I want you to feel better than when you came.”
Do you have any pre or post? show rituals?
“Let’s pray for my executive producer, Jawn Murray, who’s also my best friend. He’s known this dream for as long as I’ve had it. This door opens. Let’s pray for the audience that’s sitting with me in the studio and pray for the people who watch us so that they feel better than when they came. And the other is that I have to sit alone and I have to get Sherri to drop everything. Because what you’re supposed to to make people laugh. You’re supposed to give them a good time.”
How do you balance life and work?
“You have to find the balance. There was a time when it was getting a little off because I was flying out every week to meet affiliates. Everything I had to do with my son, Jeffrey, was at nine o’clock in the morning and I wasn’t doing it. And I called Oprah and I said, ‘I’m losing it as a mom.’ What should I do? And she really talked to me about balance, work balance, mom balance. And she said that Jeffrey had to be number one.”
How do you actually take it and apply it? Does this require saying no to some things?
“That’s what I do. I say, ‘I can’t do that because I have a parent-teacher conference that I have to do.’ So that’s a no. It’s amazing when you start saying no, people just fall there where it’s supposed to be. Going to meet the affiliates is very, very important to thank them for their support because they broadcast my show, but then I need a break of four or five weeks and then I can start again. But this four and five weeks off allows me to volunteer at Jeffrey’s book fair. Drop him off at school in the morning.”
Has Oprah seen the show?
Yes, and he told me he loved certain segments. And after Oprah texts me and says, your numbers are great in a space where it’s hard to see you during the day, your numbers are great and I’m watching them and I’m giving you a Tracking. It’s so wonderful. And I use it to keep up the morale of the staff and the producers. I read them parts of Oprah’s texts in Oprah’s voice.”
You’ve had some good guests from the get-go.
“I have to give up on my talent bookers for how hard they’ve worked. They literally decided to throw a party in LA and New York for me to meet the top publicists to let them know who I am. The meet and greet lets me talk personally with everyone and share my goals.”
Do you have a dream guest?
“I’d love to talk to Meryl Streep. John Lithgow came in and when I told you, you could pick me off the floor with a fork. I’d love to have Michelle Obama. I asked Oprah and she shut up and he said… [a friend advised her] Don’t go to a show unless you have something to say.”
What is your final vision for the show?
“I want to do this as long as people want to laugh. As long as people want to feel good, I’m there to give it to you. I want an Emmy for my show. I want an Emmy. I have it written in red lipstick on all house mirrors”.