NEW YORK (AP) — Sherri Shepherd is no stranger to hosting gigs on daytime TV, but when Oprah Winfrey offered to give her advice, the actor, comedienne and best-selling author took 15 pages of notes.
Shepherd spent more than seven years at the table on ABC’s Daytime Emmy-winning show “The View” and filled in on Wendy Williams' talk show for several months when Williams had health issues last year. But she dreamed of having her own show. That dream is now a reality. She’ll combine her acquired skills from a long career — from acting to standup comedy to interviewing — when “Sherri” debuts Sept. 12th on most Fox stations.
Shepherd spoke with The Associated Press recently about her daytime talk show host inspirations and the advice she’s received as she embarks on a new chapter. Responses have been edited for length.
AP: It feels like all your work experiences have driven you to this moment.
SHEPHERD: Doing stand up and standing on stage in front of people and being able to talk for 90 minutes when I don’t have to take a breath — I can do it. Being able to read a prompter from doing my show, “Dish Nation,” knowing about pop culture, sitting at the table between Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters and interviewing the president and Congress people and famous people who came on the show. That’s all stuff that that has led up to this point. So it is very exciting to be able to use everything that I’ve learned.
AP: You’re taking over after Wendy Williams’ departure, and working with many of her staff members. How will you make your own mark?
SHEPHERD: It’s a new show and it’s new energy. Hopefully I am honoring Wendy by being another woman who’s coming in, being unapologetically Sherri. So not trying to be the queen, because nobody can fill her shoes. That was a hard gig to do…and she did it well. So I hope to honor her by being unapologetically Sherri and forging my own lane.
AP: Which talk show hosts have inspired you?
SHEPHERD: From back in the day, Sally Jessy Raphael… Rolonda Watts was amazing as a talk show host. And then you have Oprah…. And Ellen, I just think Ellen, the comeback kid. Ellen coming out. I remember watching her when she first walked out and her monologue and I said, ‘I want to do that.’
AP: Ellen and Wendy are gone and Jennifer Hudson is starting a new show, how will you find your path?
SHPEHERD: What I think is really pretty cool is that there are three black women right now, in this time, with their own talk show: Tamron Hall, Jennifer Hudson and me. And I think we give something different to everybody. I can’t be Jennifer Hudson, nor can Jennifer be me. We can coexist. I’m very, very excited for JHud. We’re both from Chicago. She sent me an email a couple of weeks ago. So I’m so excited for her because her success is my success and vice versa. So there’s no competition there because we are two different women.
AP: Have you received advice from other hosts?
SHEPHERD: I get so much advice from everybody and really it’s the same advice, ‘be you' … and I take that to heart. I took 15 pages of notes when I spoke with Oprah, and I was just like, ‘oh my God, Oprah is giving me advice!’ It really was about, you know, taking this responsibility seriously, and energy and giving out great energy and receiving it back. I put out the call to Ellen. Whoopi’s going to call me back. Wanda (Sykes) talked to me. If I can get a little bit from everybody, I’m good.
AP: Who are your dream guests?
SHEPHERD: Michael B. Jordan, he’s in a lot of pain right now and he needs somebody to comfort him and ask some questions about his next movie (laughs.) And I would love to have Michelle Obama.… the female energy just moves me, so Meryl Streep....and Lizzo — I want her on there.