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Sherri Shepherd Plays Mother of Exoneree Brian Banks In New Movie: 'It Was Her Love That Kept Him Sane'

Actress Sherri Shepherd plays the mother of Brian Banks who was wrongfully convicted of rape in new movie detailing his story.

By Stephanie Gomulka
Oxygen’s Movie Club: Sherri Shepherd On New Film “Brian Banks”

At the age of 17, Brian Banks was wrongfully convicted after a high school classmate falsely accused him of raping her. Banks was a rising football star who had made a verbal commitment to USC in 2002, and had aspirations to play in the National Football League. After serving more than five years in prison, his accuser recanted and admitted she had made up the story. 

With the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks was later exonerated. 

His story is now major motion picture starring Aldis Hodge as Banks and Greg Kinnear as Justin Brooks, the Director and Co-Founder of the California Innocence Project. Actress and comedian Sherri Shepherd joined the cast as Brian’s mother—Leomia Myers. In an interview with Oxygen.com Shepherd said she met and spoke with Leomia to prepare for the role.  

“It was her love that kept him sane during his darkest hours...” Shepherd said. “To read about that love, to hear about that love that she had for her son and her belief in him when nobody else would believe him was pretty awesome.”

Throughout the movie's production, Banks would tell Hodge and Shepherd how he felt and what he was going through at key moments in his life. 

“...but [Banks] would disappear when Aldis Hodge, who plays Brian, would do our scenes because it was too painful for him to see the scenes with his mother and himself so he would leave,” Sheperd said. 

The film marks a new chapter for Shepherd, who’s commonly known for comedic roles on shows like “30 Rock” and for being a former co-host of the daytime talk show “The View.”

“I love being able to show a different side of Sherri than what you normally see of me,” Shepherd said. 

Although Banks was falsely accused, false reporting falls between two and ten percent in the United States, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website. The resource center also notes an estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police. 

Shepherd said the movie shines a spotlight on the failure of the criminal justice system.

Brian Banks Sherri Shepherd 1

“No parent wants to believe their child is lying about anything, but I think this shows had the justice system – from the police department, from the parole officer, the DA, to the judge—had due diligence been done this probably could’ve been wrapped up in a black and white kind of case.”

After being exonerated, Banks did play in the NFL. In 2013, he played for the Atlanta Falcons before working for the NFL’s Department of Operations.

"I hope that people can see you can get your smile back in a situation,” Shepherd said. “It’s a movie of triumph as well as hope.”

Banks was previously on Oxygen’s show “Final Appeal,” which examined criminal cases with former prosecutor Loni Coombs. “Brian Banks” opened in theaters Friday, August 9th.