Comedian Sheryl Underwood Biography
Perhaps best known for her role as Catfish Rita in 2005’s “Beauty Shop,” Sheryl Underwood is a self-described “sexually progressive, God-fearing, Black Republican.” That seemingly dichotomous personality was exactly the point of view producers of “The Talk” were looking for when Underwood joined the ensemble talk show during the 2011-2012 season.
Did You Know?
Sheryl Underwood is considered by many to be one of the world’s brightest contemporary humorists.
Underwood was born on Oct. 28, 1963, in Little Rock, Ark., and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. From there, Underwood went on to Governor State University in University Park, Ill., where she received her master’s degree in media management and mass communication.
After college, Underwood joined the U.S. Armed Forces. Post-service, Underwood continues to contribute to her fellow soldiers and servicemen and women by donating her time as an entertainer. In 2007, Underwood traveled to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to visit with and entertain the troops. She was part of a show titled the Sgt. Maj. of the Army’s Hope and Freedom tour, which featured comedians, celebrities, and musical guests.
She is also a lifetime member of the Zeta Phi Beta, an international and historically African-American sorority founded in 1920 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Underwood joined in1990. Underwood first served as president of the sorority’s Omicron Rho Zeta chapter and was later named as the National Chair of Honorary Members, and later as the National Executive Board Chair.
Underwood is also a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP and founded the African-American Female Comedian Association.
Always able to make friends and family laugh, Underwood took her talents to the stage in the late 1980s. There she discovered she could make others laugh, too. That talent was recognized when Underwood was named as the Miller Lite Comedy Search’s first female finalist in 1989. A few years later, Underwood would go on to win the BET “Funniest Female Comedian on Comic View” award. She also hosted the comedy/variety show for a period of time.
Underwood’s win – as well as her quick wit and charismatic personality – caught the attention of the BET network. They took up Underwood on her pitch to produce and host “Holla,” a panel talk show in the vein of Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.” The show ran for a limited time in 2002. Though the show was short-lived, it showcased Underwood’s ability to control a stage and make an audience laugh. I
It also made her a must-see on the big screen. Underwood tested her acting chops in two well-known films, “I Got the Hook Up” and “Beauty Shop” with Queen Latifah, a spin-off of the popular “Barber Shop” franchise.
Turning to ‘The Talk’
Since her turn on “Holla,” Underwood has shown an interest in keeping her career tied to talk television and radio. Her rise to co-host of “The Talk” was fairly fast.
Underwood began in 2010 as a contributing personality on the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” That led to a stint on Steve Harvey’s “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” that continues today (she contributes once a week to that program).
Success there allowed Underwood to host her own radio show, “Sheryl Underwood and Company,” on XM Satellite Radio for some time. After that show’s cancellation, Underwood moved to Sirius Satellite Radio, where she still hosts her own program, “The Sheryl Underwood Show,” on actor Jamie Foxx’s channel, The Foxxhole.
But in the 20ll fall season, Underwood accepted what might prove to be one of her most challenging talk show roles. After CBS’s “The Talk’s” premiere season in 2010 – 2011, the show chose not to renew contracts for co-hosts Leah Remini and Holly Peete Robinson. Remini’s departure caused a stir among vocal fans, especially considering no new hosts were selected and the decision came just days before the second season’s premiere.
Underwood was the first new co-host to join the show and has been welcomed by fans.