A few days ago I got to talk to the amazingly funny, comedian and Emmy-nominated day time talk show cohost of The Talk on CBS (which I watch every day), Sheryl Underwood.
Yes, THE Sheryl Underwood.
As part of the Depend Drop Your Pants for Underwareness program, she is encouraging people to Drop Your Pants for Underwareness to help remove the stigma for the 65 million Americans who experience bladder leakage. By going to www.underwareness.com for every pants drop, photo and video shared using #Underwareness and #DropYourPants, Depend will donate $1, up to $3 million, over the next three years to charitable organizations that advance the research and education of bladder leakage.
Graciously Sheryl agreed to chit chat with me over Skype and took no topic off the table. I genuinely enjoyed talking to her and hope you will enjoy the interview as well.
I strongly recommend you watch the entire video below or by clicking HERE, because I have not transcribed every word verbatim. The written text below is just an excerpt.
Without further adieu, enjoy my chat with Sheryl Underwood:
GLAM: I read that you have a Bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree. What were you intending to do with your degrees after college?
Sheryl: I really wanted to be an entrepreneur that could understand every aspect of my companies. I wanted to be a mover and shaker in business, and the entertainment business specifically, but I also wanted to be a good citizen of the world so I took Latin when I was in college and I tried to master certain things that weren’t traditionally ‘us’. Once I joined a sorority and Greek letter organization [Sheryl is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority], I started to learn how many things merge together from different cultures. I wanted to be able to talk to people about different things. Then I thought, if the Lord could just bless me with a certain amount of success I wanted to use my success and my resources for the betterment of mankind. Even if I stumbled, I wanted to be a better person good enough to say ‘I’m sorry, I’ve made a mistake, learn from my mistake, now let’s move forward and do some good in mankind’.
GLAM: Do you feel like you’ve actually done that?
Sheryl: Yes, I do believe that I’m on my way. In comedy I was allowed to talk about, and I went to the stage when, my husband committed suicide, after he had already attempted. I believe he had a chemical imbalance for depression. It [comedy] allowed me to talk about … here’s a man who goes into a store and buys 41 bottles of over-the-counter sleeping pills and nobody stops him. When we got him in the hospital, they ask about drug addiction, they never talk about mental health issues.
Every time something has happened to me in my life, I try to use it as a platform, as a teaching tool. When I went through therapy [my therapist] said ‘It’s not if someone commits suicide it’s when if they are depressed and suicidal’. We got to get our people to understand. This Robin Williams thing, and with depression being prevalent in our communities, we got to get our people to go ‘Yes, take it to God, but God gave the doctor the skill for the medical protocol, and for the mental health protocol, and these things are necessary’. In every stage of my life, there was something happening to me that I felt I needed to take to the stage, and the only way I could open the discussion may be with humor so that people would listen to me.
GLAM: This week we loss the irreplaceable Robin Williams and we’re all collectively mourning because of how he chose to end his life. What can we do to keep this conversation in the public eye and diminish the stigma?
Sheryl: That’s the start of the answer: We must erase the stigma of living with mental health issues.
We’re suppose to be strong. The black woman puts her cape on and she’s strong, but who do we cry to when the community is crying to us, or when our husbands are crying to us? Our husbands have to be strong men, so the black woman is too strong. First we gotta take that stigma away, second we have to understand sometimes it’s diet, sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain, sometimes it’s just a valley that you can’t come out of.
One of the reasons that I’m working with Depend is because, if you have bladder leakage, you don’t feel confident which may cause you to go into a depression. I want people to know, as long as you’re still above ground, you can make a change. Things can turn for the better. Don’t be afraid to talk about something because then other people who have gone through, or who are going through what you’re going through, would say ‘Oh well that’s my girl, I look up to Sheryl, or I look up to Roshini, I look up to people that are going through something but they’re willing to talk about it’.
GLAM: You’ve always been incredibly transparent with topics other people tend to hide. You’re talking about bladder leakage that I just found out about. I watch you every day on The Talk, you are seated at the side of the table in a profile shot where I can see your entire body, and I would have never known you were wearing anything different under your clothes.
Sheryl: It made me feel confident. Here I am kissing John Stamos, or wearing great fashion, now I just got a chance to kiss Shemar Moore and Shemar Moore lifts me up and the only thing I was thinking was ‘Please do not drop me.’ I wasn’t worried about anything because I was wearing Depend and I was hoping that women who looks like me, look better than me, look different than me, would see themselves and live vicariously through me.
I had a myomectomy, I had a partial hysterectomy, and I was having these issues, and I wanted to be as jazzy as I always was. I have a convertible Bentley with mustard leather seats and I did not want my seats messed up in my car. I wanted women to know, you can still exercise, I’m still dating (and I’m dating youngsters) … and Silhouette (Depend® Silhouette® Briefs for Women) feels just like underwear. It’s got this smooth cottony feel to it and nobody knows.
GLAM: Let’s talk about the Underwareness program. Before I say anything else, Depend is great for postpartum mothers. Ask me how I know?
Sheryl: When you say that I need you go one step further and #DropYourPants , I need you to take that photo, I need you to do the video, and I need you to put it up and do the hashtag #DropYourPants and #Underwareness and for each photo or video Depends will donate $1 up to $3 million accumulated over 3 years. I did it. You know when you show up at your man’s office doing the 50 Shades of Grey looking sexy? I have this bomb St. John coat with the around the collar and I’m flipping back and showing my Depend, showing all that voluptuous thigh meat looking sexy sexy sexy! If I can do it, you can do it.
GLAM: I’mma pray about it.
GLAM: Tell me a little bit about what your hair strategy has been. I know that you wear wigs, and now what you’re gonna do with these braids.
Sheryl: When I was going through menopause sometimes you loose the luster in your hair. My hair was always fine, it started to thin, it wasn’t holding a curl and I’m in daytime television. I didn’t want to go weave yet because my hair is so fine, and I want to keep my hairline, so I started to have wigs custom made. I wanted to have diversity in my look.
They let me wear a curly natural-looking wig and they loved it and we were getting good responses. Then I went to the executive producers of The Talk and I said I’d like to put some braids in on the last week before we go on hiatus because I want to see how the braids may look on camera, but I want to wear them all the way through hiatus. We got such good response with braids that they said, you can keep them in if you like to. In talking to Dell McDonald, who does hair and makeup for me all the time, I said ‘Can we survive this and I slowly clip out the perm and try to grow my natural hair out?’ He said it may take you a year, a year and a half and I said ‘I’m in.’ Then we found a natural dye [Naturtint] that I’ve been using to dye my gray out because on TV you still have to be aesthetic, it’s still show business.
GLAM: When was your last perm?
Sheryl: 3-4 weeks ago.
GLAM: It’s been a year since you made a few comments that grieved the spirit of the natural hair community. What was it like for you when that was happening last year?
Sheryl: I’m glad that you’re asking me this. When you’re on live TV, and you’re saying something and it’s misunderstood, or it’s wrong, or it hurts, especially in our community when you’re talking about our hair, something we’re very sensitive of … for us who are in the public eye there is a greater burden where sometimes we don’t’ get to have the platform to say ‘I made a mistake, or this is what I meant.’ I’m never gonna run from my community, I’m not gonna run from my people, I’m not gon[na] hide.
What I really learned was, how many people supported me. I was getting calls from some very A-list celebrities that I was like ‘How you find my number?’ or they were saying ‘You’re trending on Huffington Post.’ or ‘Did you know that as popular and well respected?’ I hope that people understand what I was attempting to say, and that may have to be another discussion later on between you and I and your following. I’m not sure if our community is ready for me to talk about what I meant without people saying ‘Well then you’re not sorry.’ I am sorry, and I am apologetic but I also had good friends come to me … Curly Nikki and all the good friends , the new friends, I had a young lady I didn’t even know, she sent me her phone number, [and] said ‘Sheryl talk to me how can I help?’ and we cried, and we prayed, and we talked together, and that’s where I got even more clarity and said ‘You must stand before the village and take responsibility for what you’ve said.’
I want you to look at that footage having spoken to me, and looked within my spirit, and understand ‘Ok Sheryl, you made a mistake’ but in that mistake I learned the responsibility of being in the public eye and representing our people. Now there [are] occasionally people that still bring it up, and I direct them … are you going to go find my apology as hard as you want to bring this up?
GLAM: Because you are in the public eye, do you consider yourself a representative of black women and black beauty?
Sheryl: Not just in the black community, I’m a citizen of this earth. I am a representative, that’s why I say ‘Good Morning’ to people, that’s why I make sure I tip when I go places, I wave at people. I’m not [that] kind of celebrity, I’m happy to be here. That’s why I’m opening up about bladder leakage, because I understand that people listen to what I’m saying. Yes I am a role model, and there’s a responsibility as an African-American female, as a black woman. We’re the only race of people that are responsible for each other. I learned that as long as I’m alive, and I ask for forgiveness, I can be a better person. You’re going to make mistakes daily, don’t run, don’t hide, learn. Hopefully the next sister that’s coming up behind me will do it better because she knows better. For people that are still judging me and still mad at me, you gon[na] be mad. Steve Harvey told me that. I thank you for being cognizant of the role that we play, we’re not always gonna be right, but we shouldn’t be crucified because we’re only doing the best that we can.
In following this natural hair discussion, I hope you follow me in this campaign of Underwarness as much as they follow that. Black men are dying of prostate cancer, you yourself said, after you had your baby, you had to wear a different type of undergarment and Depend worked for you, those of us who have had partial and full hysterectomies our bladder drops, there’s no shame in that. There’s also no shame in owning up to something that you’ve done and saying ‘I’m not hiding, and I’m not leaving the entertainment business, I got more work to do.’
You can watch the entire video interview here:
or watch it directly on Youtube | Help me meet my goal of 20K subscribers by end of year *thank you*
Thanks again to Sheryl for taking time to talk with me, I wish her all the best. Don’t forget to check out Underwareness.com and help them reach their goal of $3 million over the next 3 years.
Oh and don’t forget to check out my other VEDA (Vlog Every Day In August) videos.