updated 10/04/2010 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 10/04/2010 AT 12:15 PM ET
Sherri Shepherd is known for her big smile and fun-loving personality. But the comedian and co-host of The View had to fight to find the laughter as a child who was bullied by classmates.
“My dad worked two jobs and moved us to the suburbs, and just being a black person, I went through a lot of racism and being called names and being bullied every single day,” Shepherd tells PEOPLE. “And it was hard. I didn’t have any friends.”
But there was an upside: She learned to make people laugh, and found strength through the adversity. “I think it made me who I am,” she says. “That’s why I’m a stand-up comic.”