Shari Headley was the real “Queen To Be” in the classic comedy, Coming To America with Eddie Murphy. She also reprised her role on Coming 2 America, the sequel in 2020 and fans are still in love with her. Headley’s down-to-earth personality and big heart in the original movie made audiences quickly fall in love with her character, Lisa McDowell, the eldest daughter of the McDowell burger franchise. But it’s Shari’s real-life heart for giving that has blessed thousands.
The youngest of four children, Shari “has always been a good person, but she really didn’t stand out as a kid,” says her mother, Sarah, a school registrar. Her father, a dental technician, died in 1982. Headley didn’t begin to distinguish herself until she dropped out of Queens (yes, it was seriously called “Queens”) College and signed with the Ford modeling agency, doing commercials for L’Oreal, Johnson’s Baby Oil and Burger King.
Headley, who cared for her 90+ mother and reared her son, Skyler, as a single mom balances work and life pretty well. “I’m so proud of my son.” Now in his 20’s with his mom’s positive outlook and giving personality, Skyler is into inventions and animation.
Nurturing children on one end and caring for elders at the same time can present a unique set of challenges that isn’t easy for any woman — especially when flying solo and especially when working in an industry known for being in one minute and out the next.
But, while keeping mind focused on family, Headley has done whatever she needed to take care of her family and make it as an actor.
“Being a working actor can be feast or famine,” says Headley, who, has had to roll her mother in a wheelchair or pushed her son in a stroller to more than just a few auditions.
“At one point, I lived in my car,” she reveals. “I’ve put God first, and that’s been what’s kept me thriving. He’s going to always take care of me.”
Plus, her mom and her friends have had her back. “I’ve had a lot of supportive people around me,” she adds, including…