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Sherri Shepherd on Playing Her Most Difficult Character Yet in ‘Trial & Error’

Sherri Shepherd
TRIAL & ERROR -- Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Sherri Shepherd as Anne, Steven Boyer as Dwayne, Nicholas D'Agosto as Josh -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Sherri Shepherd knew she had something special on her hands as soon as she booked her latest role on NBC’s new comedy Trial & Error. “It’s every actress’ dream to be able to do something different,” she told EBONY. “I called my best friend Niecy [Nash] and said, ‘I think I got one that’s gonna change it.'”

In Trial & Error a New York City attorney heads to South Carolina to defend an eccentric poetry professor who is accused of killing his wife. On the show, which is filmed as a fake documentary, Shepherd plays Anne Flatch, a legal secretary with a host of rare disorders from dyslexia to Prosopamnesia (the inability to recognize faces). For the comedian who is used to playing up the joke on sitcoms and on stage, not making light of Anne’s various ailments was difficult. 

“Hopefully I played it very authentically. That was the challenge,” the former View co-host said. “Somebody’s going to see this and say, ‘I matter.’ I felt good about that. I wanted to play [the character] where they wouldn’t feel I was mocking them.”

Though Shepard doesn’t have much in common with her character’s unique disorders, she did work as a legal secretary while she was trying to break into show biz. The actress can still type 102 words per minute and quickly adapted to playing Anne–and her disorders–as a fully human being. In fact, Shepard played her character so well, the show’s creators expanded her role.

“I was written very small in the script but they increased it, so now I’m with John Lithgow a lot of the times in the show,” she said. “The writing was so yummy, the actors were so professional, and it starts from the top.” 

Trial & Error is much different than Shepard’s previous projects, and she said it has given her an opportunity to reintroduce herself as an actress.

“Coming off something like The View and not knowing if people in the industry remembered that I was an actress was very scary when I left the show,” she confessed. “So to land on a project that people are really digging, I couldn’t help but be grateful.”

So what should fans expect from Trial & Error when it debuts on NBC?

It’s like The Office but darker and edgier,” Shepard said. 

Trial & Error airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.

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