April 22, 1967
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Actress, Comedian, Talk show host
Lamar Sally, Jeff Tarpley
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Sherri Shepherd was a stand-up comedienne who parlayed her talent into a Daytime Emmy Award-winning hosting slot on the popular talk show, "The View" (ABC, 1997- ). Shepherd also made an impression on primetime audiences with regular appearances on sitcoms "Less Than Perfect" (ABC, 2002-06) and "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ) before headlining her own series, "Sherri" (Lifetime, 2009). An occasional supporting player in feature films like "Precious" (2009), Shepherd's screen efforts generally found her sticking close to her stage persona as a confident, wise-cracking woman who refused to take any guff from anyone. Never shy about mixing her personal life with her public persona, the newly-slimmed down comedian-host-actress shared her special day with all of America in the special "Wedding Fabulous: Sherri Shepherd Gets Married" (Style Network, 2011) and entered the competition for the coveted mirror ball trophy on the 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Always on the lookout for a new challenge or creative endeavor, Shepherd set her sights on any number of goals in every medium imaginable.
Born Sherri Evonne Shepherd on April 22, 1970 in Chicago, IL, Shepherd and her three sisters were raised by her parents in the all-white suburb of Hoffman Estates. A self-confessed class clown, Shepherd harbored an interest in a performing career from an early age, but her father (a fast food restaurant manager) paid for her to attend a trade college and earn a living as a legal secretary. Her love for comedy, however, was re-ignited after catching Andrew "Dice" Clay in concert. So with the encouragement of friends, she began the brutal practice of playing comedy clubs at night. Shepherd relocated to Los Angeles in the early '90s and quickly found her way into the West Coast stand-up comedy scene. She soon joined her first television series, the comedy "Cleghorne!" (The WB, 1995) starring former "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) performer Ellen Cleghorne, but its cancellation forced her to return to legal work to make ends meet. During this time, Shepherd experienced several personal setbacks; from the death of her mother to legal trouble, causing the former Jehovah's Witness to convert to Christianity as a source of solace. Her religious shift would go on to inform her stand-up.
After her personal life returned to some semblance of order, Shepherd began making the rounds on various television sitcoms. She logged multiple appearances on "Suddenly Susan" (NBC, 1996-2000) and "The Jamie Foxx Show" (The WB, 1996-2001), as well as received perhaps her largest audience to date with nine turns on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005), playing the feisty police officer partner of Robert Barone (Brad Garrett). The increased exposure from such a popular sitcom unsurprisingly led to more work on television and later film for the rotund comic. She landed a series regular role on the ABC comedy "Less Than Perfect" (2002-06), and had memorable supporting roles in the features "Guess Who" (2004) and "Beauty Shop" (2005). Her gift for gab also helped her become a popular guest on syndicated game shows and daytime talk programs, especially "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (syndicated, 2003- ), where she held the record for most guest appearances. Shepherd also found time to branch out into voice-over work, lending her pipes for the Disney Channel series "Kim Possible" (2002-07) and "Brandy and Mr. Whiskers" (2004-06). During this time, she also continued to perform stand-up at popular venues in Los Angeles and released a self-produced performance DVD, which was available through her web site.
Shepherd began filling in as a guest host on "The View" in 2005 and quickly won over viewers with her brassy humor and frank discussion of the dissolution of her marriage to comedian Jeff Tarpley - with whom she has a son - reportedly due to his infidelity. Rumors began circulating in early 2007 that Shepherd would eventually fill the seat vacated by Star Jones on a permanent basis. At the same time, industry media outlets began reporting that Buena Vista was grooming Shepherd for a solo outing with her own daytime talk show. But after months of speculation, it was announced in September that Shepherd would, indeed, be filling a permanent seat at "The View" table, replacing Jones and being the second African-American to sit at the table for the new season, with Whoopi Goldberg being the first, after replacing Rosie O'Donnell as moderator.
Shepherd maintained a primetime presence with a recurring role as Angie Jordan, the domineering wife of egomaniacal television star Tracy Jordan on the Emmy-winning "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ), and lent her voice to the hit animated family film, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (2008). That same year, in spite of on-air blunders including admitting she had never voted and suggesting that the world could well be flat, the co-host was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 2008 along with the rest of the ladies, taking home the award the following year. In 2009, Shepherd scored another career milestone with the premiere of her self-titled sitcom "Sherri" (Lifetime, 2009). The first comedy property ever owned by the women's network, the semi-autobiographical series followed the trials and tribulations of an aspiring comedienne and legal secretary putting her life back together after a divorce stemming from her ex-husband's infidelity. She returned to theaters that fall in the critically acclaimed drama of an abused inner-city teen in "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" (2009).
Shepherd checked another item off her lengthy "to do" list that same year when she became a published author with her self-help book, Permission Slips: Every Woman's Guide to Giving Herself a Break. In addition to her ongoing duties on "The View," Shepherd began hosting the latest iteration of TV's long-running marital game show, "The Newlywed Game" (GSN, 2009- ) in 2010. She became a newlywed herself the following year, when she treated viewers to a front row seat at her marriage to writer Lamar Sally in the televised special "Wedding Fabulous: Sherri Shepherd Gets Married" (Style Network, 2011), with friends like Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Niecy Nash in attendance. Although Shepherd's sitcom lasted a mere single season, she kept busy with other acting gigs, including a turn in the Martin Lawrence comedy sequel "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" (2011). Additional appearances for the busy actress included a recurring role as a judge in several episodes of the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland" (TV Land, 2010- ) and a supporting turn in the Katherine Heigl action-comedy "One for the Money" (2012). Continually pushing herself outside her comfort zone, a noticeably slimmer Shepherd was later announced as a contestant on the 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), partnered with sophomore dancing pro, Val Chmerkovskiy.