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Sherri Shepherd says ‘The View’ was the ‘most painful experience I’ve ever gone through’

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – DECEMBER 11: Sherri Shepherd attends WE tv celebrates the return of “Love After Lockup” with panel, “Real Love: Relationship Reality TV’s Past, Present

For the better part of a decade, Sherri Shepherd put on a brave face while sitting next to her co-hosts Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, and Joy Behar at The View. Now the comedian is revealing that behind the scenes it was actually one of the most painful – but rewarding – experiences of her life.

“It was the most painful experience that I’ve ever gone through, but it was the best experience,” Shepherd told PEOPLE this week. “Barbara was so hard on me. I cried for three years in my dressing room because she was so hard on me, but she did it out of love.”

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: (AFP OUT) (L-R) Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, Elisabeth Hasselbeck pose for a photo on the set of The View on ABC-TV September 24, 2012 in New York City. Obama is in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by Allan Tannenbaum-Pool/Getty Images)

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Furthering her feelings of insecurity were standout moments like when fellow talk show host Wendy Williams opined on her own show that Shepherd could easily be “replaced with a potato sack.”

In response to the scathing remark, Shephard says show creator Walters consoled her by saying, “I love you. I just need you to read a book, dear, and learn to defend what you believe. And speak up.”

To the television legend’s point, the mother of one often met criticism for not being well versed in current events and misspeaking when covering social issues. In 2014 for instance, she found herself in hot water with the LGBTQ+ community for a series of statements that were centered around her Christian faith.

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“You love who you love,” she now says, adding, “I’ve evolved. Look, my best friend, my best friend Tommy Borden, he’s been married to his husband, Jimmy, for the last 17 years. I couldn’t even make two marriages work past six years. Who am I to be judging anybody?”

“When people wanted to cancel me and take out full-page ads on me and take it outside The View, I would cry,” she said of a time in her career that inadvertantly made her one of the earliest targets of cancel culture. “Because I would go, ‘If you knew my heart.’”

She recalled her last few moments on the show before leaving.

“I sat in my dressing room in front of the mirror and I couldn’t breathe. And I said, ‘Lord, I got this child with these challenges [her son Jeffrey], this divorce is coming down the pike,” she said.

“This is going to be bad. What am I going to do?’ And there was a small voice because I’m very spiritual, it’s a small voice, it sounds like Barry White, that asked, ‘Do you trust me?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely not. I’m hanging on in my faith by the skin of my teeth.’ And God said, ‘That’s all I need.’ ”

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