BY: Tai Perkins
Edited By: Tai Perkins
PHOTOS BY: Jasmine Verdidiano
"Make your voice known- Because if you don’t make your voice known, they don’t care about us. “
Inspirational would be an understatement. So many movies, so many important TV moments, and a whole lot of comedy- THEE Sherri Shepherd graced Next Jeneration with her presence. With a bright, vibrant smile, warm hugs and full of complements, the award-winning, Sherri, and her team enters the Next Jen set. You may know Sherri from co-hosting the legendary talk show, ‘The View,’ or from making us laugh in movies such as ‘Ride Along 2,’ ‘Beauty Shop,’ Think Like A Man’ and so much more. As of recent, Sherri took on a more serious role, as she starred as “Leomia” in the new powerful film Brian Banks.
Sherri Shepherd: I’m Sherri Shepherd. I am actress, a comedian, a stand-up comic, an author and a mother.
Next Jeneration: Awesome! So many hats. Your movie, Brian Banks, came out August 9th. Tell us a little about it.
Sherri Shepherd: Brian Banks is the true story of Brian Banks who was a 16 year old football player set to attend USC. He probably would have gone’ pro but he was accused of rape by a student in his school, falsely accused and at 16 years old he was cohorst into taking a no-contest plea and sentenced to 6 years in prison. He served 5 and a half years, and when he got out he was still imprisoned because he couldn’t find a job. He had the label of a pedophile and the accuser actually contacted him and admitted on tape that she lied. He was able to get the California Innocence Project to represent him and he ended up getting exonerated for a crime he did not commit.
Next Jeneration: Wow! So, This is kind of similar to ‘When They See Us.’
Sherri Shepherd: Absolutely! As When They See Us is about the judicial system and had it failed our young men. Brian Banks, the judicial system completely failed him. From the judges to the DA’s, to the parole officer, to the police force, they completely failed a 16 year old boy.
Next Jeneration: How is important is movie and shows like this? How important is it for young people to see this? Especially now- in today’s time?
Sherri Shepherd: It’s so important for young people to see this. To see that choices can change their life in a blink of an eye. It’s important for young people to see so you can see the power that you have to make a change in the justice system. We’re so use to picking out who we want as vice president and president, but we have a chance to elect judges that represent our interest. [A chance] to elect DA’S that represent our interest, because God forbid, you’re ever standing in front of one of these people you want to know that they don’t have a high conviction rate of people of color. You want to know that they have empathy and compassion and it’s up to us to elect those proper people.
Next Jeneration: Speaking of election, I know a lot of young people don’t feel or don’t understand the importance of voting. Can you speak a little bit on that?
Sherri Shepherd: Definitely, like I said voting is so important because I think people always think in big terms- ‘who’s the president? Who’s the vice president?’ But literally, it’s who is representing you in the house and in the senate. Those are the people who are going to Washington, that are representing your interest. If you call them and tell them you’re not voting for them, you’ll be amazed at how they start representing you. It is important that you vote for the district attorney’s, the judges, because again- if you’re ever in front of one of these people they hold your future in their hands. If you’re voting for somebody different that’s going to represent your interest, chances are if you or someone you know is in front of them, they’re going to get a better plea or a better deal than they normally would. It’s so important to vote and make your voice known. Because if you don’t make your voice known, they don’t care about us.
Next Jeneration: Exactly right! Now, back to Brian Banks. Tell us about your character.
Sherri Shepherd: I play Leomia, Brian Bank’s mother. I love Leomia because she doesn’t feel like a hero. She says ‘I just love my son.’ But her love kept him sane while he was incarcerated. Leomia sold her car and mortgaged her brand new home, to get a lawyer for Brian Banks who
ended up taking a plea deal. She drove 3 and
a half hours there and back every week to
see her son, she wrote him a letter every week.
She never gave up believing in her son’s
innocence, so stay close to your momma’s'.
Next Jeneration: Did you tape into your own
motherhood while playing this role? Because
I know, you have a son.
Sherri Shepherd: I did tap into my own
motherhood, but my son was 12 at the
time I read this script. He could be
Brian Banks. I am the mother of a
little black boy, he’s 14 now so even more-
He could be Brian Banks. Every day I pray over
him before he walks out that door because
there’s a very palpable fear of him going out
in the streets and having to explain to him
that someone may not like him because of
his skin color. So I definitely tapped into being
a mother of a child and the terrifying thought
of losing my child.
Next Jeneration: Absolutely, so powerful. This movie is obviously so important for young black boys all over the world to see.
Sherri Shepherd: So important.
Next Jeneration: You have a Netflix series! It’s so funny. Tell us about that.
Sherri Shepherd: Yes, it’s called Mr. Iglesias. It’s starring Fluffy the comedian. He plays a high-school teacher at a school in Long Beach and I play the principal. I got it together at the school but my home life’s in shambles and I’m just trying to keep the school together.
Next Jeneration: We will be sure to check that out as well. Before you go, can you give a word of advice to any young person who wants to be in film and TV?
Sherri Shepherd: Absolutely, don’t take no for an answer and the fear that you have in your belly, run towards that very thing that scares you because there’s a lot of amazing blessings on the other side of fear. Don’t take things personally because in 5 years you’re going to look up and go ‘I can’t believe I gave it that much energy.’ Don’t take things personally, keep it moving and keep your smile. Stay the course, stay focused.
Next Jeneration: That was amazing! Thank you.
Not only is Sherri tremendously talented, she is an inspiration to us all. She is an advocate for women, and continues to show us that we should be treated equal. She speaks candidly about what it means to be a working mother, a black woman and an all around go-getter. She is a prime example of going towards your dreams despite whatever obstacles you may face. Sherri gives the next jeneration of actors, actresses, and comedians a blueprint to follow! She reminds everyone that you can wear multiple hats and still be successful at each of them! We salute you, Sherri Shepherd.
Next Jeneration will continue to keep up with all the amazing projects Sherri Shepherd is apart of.