The case for Sherri Shepherd as TV mom of the year is here. With her upcoming appearance in Season 2 of “Harlem,” she adds a new onscreen daughter under her wing — and they’ve got a matching look that screams family ties.
As a fan of Tracy Oliver’s series on Amazon Prime, the talk show host was more than excited to do a guest spot, but what sealed the deal was her character. Shepherd, already known for her enthusiastic persona, portrays Angie’s (Shoniqua Shandai) equally loud, proud and take-charge mother, Sonia, in Episode 3 titled, “An Assist from the Sidelines.”
In an exclusive clip, Shepherd is seen sharing a touching heart-to-heart moment with Shandai as she reminds her to pick herself up when life knocks her down.
Perhaps Shepherd embodied the role all too well as she says the mother-daughter feeling between Shandai and herself took on a life offscreen.
“I was a fan of the ladies and Shoniqua — I call her my Shoniqua. So when they said, ‘You’re gonna play her mother,’ I said, ‘Okay, all right, I’m down with that,’ because I really liked her character. Then they said, literally, the essence of who she is, who Angie is, she got it from her mother. And I said, ‘Oh my God, you mean I get to be as big as Angie?’ And they said, ‘even more so,’” Shepherd said. “She was like the daughter I never had on that set. It was just a pure joy to be around Shaniqua.”
The episode featured family trips from most of the characters and included cameos from Rick Fox as well as Lil Rel Howery. The latter portrayed one of Angie’s brothers. That closeness is highlighted in several conversations had at the family’s house as Angie receives encouragement from her various sides to continue her pursuit of becoming a star.
Out of her foursome of friends, Angie might be defined as the hypersexual friend with a rotating door of escapades to keep her occupied. So, it’s a refreshing spin that Oliver chose to steer away from a stereotypical depiction of her background which would’ve included absent father, unreliable parents, history of abuse, etc.
“I loved her home life because you would think, ‘Oh, she comes from a broken home. She comes from every stereotype you can imagine.’ It really was like her home life was so loving and so warm and she knew that when she came home, that was her spirit charger. She knew when she came home to all those brothers, her father, nieces and nephews, that she was loved,” said Shepherd.
“I think really the hypersexuality was her mother just telling her you can do that. You can do anything you want to do. Be who you are, love who you are. Be free. Love who you want to love, because her mother did it.”
That point was especially driven home during the duo’s heartfelt kitchen scene. Sonia finds Angie discouraged about her life path and career choices. She takes time to metaphorically refill her daughter’s cup and assures her of her worth because she’s a “motherfucking Sonia Wilson creation,” as Shepherd says in the episode.
“That was such a beautiful thing that they wrote for us — of me, really letting my daughter know: don’t diminish who you are and don’t get down because falling is part of the process. But you got to love yourself enough to get back up and know that everything about yourself is enough,” she explained. “I’m living as her mother vicariously through her because my choice was to stay home and get married and have children. But to see her excel meant I got to excel. Because she was the reality of what I dreamed.”
Shepherd has grown into a bonafide TV mom with some of her latest roles. She currently plays Whitney Chase’s (Alyah Chanel Scott) senator mom on HBO Max’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” She’s also played Aldis Hodge’s mother in Tom Shadyac’s Brian Banks biopic – but don’t let that fool you. Shepherd says she’s still young enough to go out on dates with any of the men she’s played a mother to onscreen.
“I said to Lil Rel, ‘if I play one more, Aldis Hodge’s mama and your Mama, I’m going to scream.’ I love this role, but something is not right in my life. I was like, ‘Negro are you kidding me? We’ve been on the phone talking late at night about everything under the sun and I’m playing your mom,’” she joked. “All of the boys came out of their trailer and they all were saying, ‘Ma’ and I said, ‘Don’t call me that. My name is Sherri because on any given Sunday, I could be going on a date with all of you.’”
Episode 3 and 4 of “Harlem” will be available for streaming on Feb. 10 on Amazon Prime Video. Watch the exclusive clip above.
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