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December 02, 2020

Sheryl Underwood Almost Missed Her 'The Talk' Job — inside Her Rise to Success

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Stand-up comedienne and actress Sheryl Underwood is adored by the millions of viewers of the show she co-hosts, "The Talk," but she almost lost the job.

Funny woman Sheryl Underwood has been in stand-up comedy since the late 80s, but she is now best known to audiences as one of the co-hosts of CBS's award-winning talk show, "The Talk."

Along with co-hosts Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Eve, and Carrie Ann Inaba, Sheryl Underwood has won two Daytime Emmys and one People's Choice Award, but she almost missed her chance to join the show.

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THE CALL

Underwood was already a well-known comedian with the 1994 BET "Funniest Female Comedian on Comic View" award and the 2005 BET Comedy Awards' Platinum Mic Viewers Choice Award under her belt when her phone rang in 2011.

The voice on the other side told Underwood that CBS wanted to interview her for a co-hosting job on their successful daytime talk show, "The Talk." 

Underwood has remained a supporter of the armed forces, and she frequently toured Kuwait and Afghanistan, entertaining the men and women in uniform with her comedy act.

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THE JOKE

Underwood's first reaction was that it was a joke one of her comedian friends was playing on her, so she called up Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Jamie Foxx, and Chris Tucker, and blasted them for the joke. Underwood recalls:

"Steve Harvey said, ‘It really might be CBS, you might want to call them back.’ Then in four days, I had the job that I still have to this day.”

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THE TALK

"The Talk" was created by actress and producer Sara Gilbert and premiered in October 2010. The show was originally focused on motherhood issues but gradually and naturally evolved into a wider range of interests.

The show goes on-air live every morning from Monday to Friday, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped them. Instead of sitting around their round table, the ladies of “The Talk” sit in socially distanced chairs, except for Eve, who joins in from London via a screen.

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THE MILITARY WOMAN

Being part of a talk show wasn't what Underwood imagined her future to be when she joined the Air Force Reserves straight after college and served for two years. Sadly during that time, she was also the victim of a rape.

To this day, Underwood has remained a supporter of the armed forces, and she frequently toured Kuwait and Afghanistan, entertaining the men and women in uniform with her comedy act.

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STILL LAUGHING

Underwood is a woman loyal to her old loves, be they the military or comedy, and she is still doing stand-up comedy tours and shows, often teaming up with other comedians.

Being in urban comedy is what Underwood is all about: laughter with the dark tang of tragedy just under the sweetness — a reflection of her own life.

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DARK DAYS

Underwood's past is dark enough to inspire tragedies. She was born a twin, but her sister died at birth — and that was just the beginning of Underwood's suffering. She revealed that she was sexually abused by a family member from an early age:

"I went through that [at] 3, 4, 5 years old. I didn't sleep. I learned how to stay up as long as I could ... I may sleep at school because nobody is going to protect me. So I had to protect myself."

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Underwood revealed that her own mother had blamed her after walking in on the abuse, leaving her feeling even more defenseless. Her family was profoundly dysfunctional, and Underwood was afraid of her father because her mother told her he'd killed her twin.

It would take another tragedy — her mother stabbed her father in front of Underwood — to bring the truth to light. Fortunately, her father survived the attack, and he and Underwood went on to rebuild their relationship.

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Underwood's older sister Frankie is disabled, and she is her caregiver. The feisty comedian has managed to draw strength from her personal tragedy and transmute her pain into laughter.

Underwood, who attended the University of Illinois and Governors State University, is a Zeta Phi Beta. She has teamed up with Metamucil, a company that produces fiber supplements and supports Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

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