Egypt Sherrod has accomplished what most women in the media only dream about, and that’s successfully crossing genres and mediums. Sherrod has established herself as the go-to personality for radio, TV and print, with various gigs at top outlets like “The Maury Show,” New York’s Power 105.1, HGTV and more under her belt and can boast interviews with A-listers like Oprah, Leonardo Dicaprio, Mariah Carey and others.
Nowadays, Egypt is a new mother, a wife, holds down a mid day radio spot on Atlanta’s V-103, hosts HGTV’s “Property Virgins,” and recently began a professional acting career. Her debut movie role in Noel Calloway’s “Live, Life, Soul.” Here, she chats briefly with Hello Beautiful about her journey to the national stage and how her faith helps her to maintain in a hectic industry.
Who were the first women on TV you looked up to as a child and what was it about them that struck your fancy?
Oprah Winfrey. She was one of the most visible women of color on national TV, and that gave me a sense of pride. Oprah has always had a way of asking tough questions in a very direct yet compassionate way. She’s used her huge platform to help people in powerful ways, and shed light on important social issues that may not otherwise have a global spotlight.
What was your journey like from college to when you landed your first media job?
Initially I began as a theater major at NYU, but when I transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia (my hometown). I was bitten by the radio bug in the mid 90′s. I was the receptionist at my college radio station, which played straight ahead jazz music at the time. The production director used to hear me over the PA system paging folks when calls came in. One day he asked me to voice a few radio commercials, and the rest was history. My TV career began shortly after when I began hosting a popular Philly-based video music program called “Urban Expressions.” My first gig with BET came shortly after. After my college radio station, I hustled a lot to make connections in the commercial radio world. I remember hearing that Radio One, a large Black owned broadcasting company had just purchased a station in Philly and was switching the format to hip hop and R&B. At the time it was called WPHI-FM 103.9. I researched, called, faxed and sent as many smoke signals possible to get the attention of the management staff at the station. One day I got the call from the program director, Mic Fox, to come in and interview. He liked my persistence and tenacity, so he let me intern, then hired me for a part-time gig. I was his programming assistant, and eventually I worked my way up the ladder to being an on-air talent and music director for the station.
What steps did you take to diversify your career considering that you’ve done urban and mainstream TV, radio and print and now acting?
I’ve always had interest in branding myself across various multimedia platforms, so expanding beyond radio and TV was a natural progression. The key has been surrounding myself with a core team of people who understand me, see my vision for myself and inspire with their own creative ideas for my growth.
How do you deal with the pressure to look a certain way or to be a certain size?
The pressure on women especially to look a certain way or be a certain size in the entertainment business can overwhelming. Being on television adds additional pressure, because TV can make you look 10 lbs heavier than what you are in real life. I am conscious of my weight and my appearance, because I want to feel healthy and look good. However, I refuse to allow anyone to stress me out about vanity.
Describe a moment that you doubted yourself and explain what kept you going.
I can’t think of one specific moment when I doubted myself. However, I can tell you that anytime I start a new venture outside of my normal everyday routine, my nerves get a little worked up. What keeps me going is my faith in God, and knowing He consistently orders my steps in life. My belief in myself to out do my yesterday’s best, and unwavering support from my best friend and manager, Amber, also help. Not to mention I have a loving and supportive husband, parents and family.
What do Black women aspiring to media careers need to know?
You deserve just as much of an opportunity to shine and be successful as anyone else. You don’t have to sleep your way to the top, so don’t let anyone pressure you in that direction. Don’t strive to be the best “Black” woman in media or even the best woman, only strive to be the best “person” in your craft, period!