Sheryl Lee Ralph is an American actress and singer who made her screen debut in the 1977 comedy film A Piece of the Action, before landing her breakthrough role as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she received a Tony Award nomination.
The Actress recently made headlines for her win at the Emmys where she won for Supporting Comedy Actress in Abbott Elementary. As a Jamaican, we are extremely proud and happy for her as it shows that hard work, dedication, commitment, and timing always bring success even later on in life. Her win is aspirational to me as an individual as it encourages me to keep pushing and always ensure I am in a position to receive all the things I’ve prayed for.
Today, we will be sharing a few interesting things about her that you might not know.
5 Interesting Things About Sheryl Lee Ralph
She was An Original DreamGirl
We all know DreamGirls that features Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce, but this is not actually the original. The original is a play on Broadway that opened on December 20, 1981. In the musical, she played Deena Jones and did over 1,000 performances, and received a Tony Award nomination.
When the Dream Girls movie came out in 2006, she felt a bit snubbed that she was not consulted as she felt her input could have refined Beyonce’s character and help her to win an award.
She was born in Connecticut
I know I am not the only one who thought she was born in Jamaica, but she was born in Waterbury Connecticut to Jamaican-born parents. Her parents are Stanley Ralph, a college professor, and Ivy Ralph O.D., a Jamaican fashion designer and the creator of the kariba suit. She was raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island.
Ralph attended Uniondale High School in Uniondale, New York. She starred in a high-school production of musical Oklahoma!, portraying Ado Annie.
She Left Moesha Due to Bad attitudes of Cast Members + Show Direction
Moesha was one of the most successful sitcoms of the 90s that featured R&B Singer Brandy. It was centered around her character and featured her father Frank (William Allen Young), Step-Mother Dee (Sheryl Lee Ralph), and her younger brother Myles (Marcus T. Paulk). The show also featured other cast members including Hakeem Campbell, Countess Vaughn, Yvette Wilson, Shar Jackson, and later Brandy’s younger brother Ray J. Initially, when the show started, Sheryl Lee was excited to work with Brandy as she thought she was incredibly talented, but the egos of a few younger cast members grew beyond control and it was hard for her to go on set.
There was an instance where she would return to the show in braids which Brandy loved, but behind the scenes told others “it was her thing”. The team asked her to remove the braids for which she refrained, but was offered $25,000 towards her AIDS charity and for a stylist to create a wig for which she accepted. As the show progressed and the directions changed where it was revealed that Frank had a son from an affair of his previous marriage (before Dee) and she had enough. She felt the show changed directions and they didn’t need to break up the family.
She is a Philanthropist
The D.I.V.A. Foundation is a nonprofit 501c (3) charitable organization founded by Sheryl Lee Ralph in 1990 as a memorial to the many friends she lost to HIV/AIDS while in the original Broadway company of Dreamgirls. The organization focuses on generating resources and coordinating activities to create awareness of and combat against HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. The D.I.V.A. Foundation produces and utilizes televised and digital health awareness content (music, entertainment programming, panels, and discussions) as vehicles to inform, educate and erase the stigma still attached to this disease. The D.I.V.A. Foundation’s signature fundraising event “DIVAS Simply Singing! Raising Health Awareness” is the longest consecutive running HIV/AIDS and Health Awareness benefit concerts in the U.S.
She Received the Order of Jamaica in 2022
The Order of Jamaica or OJ as it is called is the 5th highest Jamaican honor. Each year, nominees are selected based on the work they have done in specific categories and they are awarded on Heroes Day on October 17.
For Sheryl Lee, it will be:
For sterling contribution as an actress and cultural ambassador for Jamaica and for contribution to the international film industry.
Sheryl Lee Ralph is an amazingly talented individual who has not limited herself to be great at just one thing. She is proof that hardwork does bring success. Let us know in the comments if you knew any of these things.
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