Sheryl Lee Ralph
Raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, W.I. and Long Island, New York, Sheryl Lee Ralph was born in Waterbury, Connecticut to an American father and a Jamaican mother. Sheryl attended Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY. She starred in the High School musical Oklahoma! and played Ado Annie. Sheryl graduated in 1972. In 1973, she was crowned Miss Black Teen-age New York. At 19, Ralph was the youngest woman to ever graduate from
Rutgers University.Also that year she was named as one of the top 10 college women in America by Glamour magazine. Initially she hoped to study medicine, but after dealing with cadavers in a premed class and winning a scholarship in a competition at the American College Theater Festival, she quit medicine for the performing arts. Many years later, she served as the commencement speaker at Rutgers for the Class of 2003.
Original DREAMGIRL, Sheryl Lee Ralph is a multifaceted jewel of a woman who sparkles in every area of her life. An acclaimed show business “pro”, her award winning body of work in film, television and the Broadway stage includes originating and creating the role of Deena Jones on Broadway in the landmark musical Dreamgirls, which earned her a Tony Award Nomination and a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Actress. After Dreamgirls, Ms. Ralph turned her attention to music, television, and film. She scored a top-ten selling dance hit in the mid-eighties with the infectious anthem In the Evening. The video is a You Tube hit.
On television, she has starred in It’s a Living, her own series New Attitude, the George Foreman series George and in the hit comedy Designing Women. She was voted one of TV’s Favorite Moms for her portrayal of loving step mom, Dee on the smash series Moesha and received numerous NAACP Image Award nominations for this role. In the SHOWTIME series, Barbershop, Sheryl broke new ground as the popular, post-operative transsexual, Claire. She brought a new face to the sufferings of war in the NBC hit series ER.
Her extensive film credits include The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington, Sister Act II with Whoopi Goldberg, Mistress with Robert De Niro, and Eddie Murphy’s Distinguished Gentleman to name a few. Sheryl Lee’s performance with Danny Glover in To Sleep with Anger won her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Author, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s first book Redefining DIVA (Simon & Schuster) debuted to rave reviews. Kirkus Reviews says, “A highly enthusiastic memoir by one of the original Broadway Dreamgirls… Actress Ralph embraces the label Diva (“Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed”) … Proposing that a real diva is a strong woman who respects herself and others and who promotes positive change. Ralph presents an engrossing story of a woman who challenged Hollywood… Her responses to trying circumstances reveal genuine grace and the ability to move forward with forgiveness.” Wendy Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Richard Simmons, Raven Symone, Shaun Robinson and Publishers Weekly all say it is a must read!
As a producer, Sheryl Lee found new success with her production company, Island Girl Productions, writing, directing and producing her award-winning film short Secrets. With an all-star cast, that includes Oscar nominee Alfre Woodard, Tina Lifford, Victoria Rowell, La Tanya Richardson, Robin Givens and Ralph herself. Secrets was a finalist in the HBO Film Short Competition, Showtime Filmmakers Series, Acapulco Black Film Festival, Hollywood Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, Urban World Film Festival and “Audience Favorite” at Outfest Film Festival. She is also the founding creator of The Jamerican Film & Music Festival, which in five years gave birth to five SHOWTIME Filmmaker Finalists.
As a national speaker, Sheryl Lee consistently creates a contagious positive energy with her spontaneous humor and quick wit, which has made her a much sought-after speaker, guest, guest-host and celebrity expert. She has appeared on: HLN, Joan Velez Mitchell, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, The Daily Show, FOX & Friends, Good Day LA, Good Day NY, CBS Morning News, CNBC Africa, The Martha Stewart Show, The Wendy Williams Show, The Michael Baisden Show, Tom Joyner Show. Sheryl has been featured in: People Magazine, JET, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, Ebony, ESSENCE, Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, Glamour, Time Magazine, Black Enterprise, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer and hundreds more publications. Sheryl Lee Ralph captivates and motivates audiences around the world.
A passionate AIDS activist, Ms. Ralph is the founding director of the DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) Foundation 501(C)3 which she created in memory of the many friends she had lost to HIV/AIDS. She also created the critically acclaimed Divas Simply Singing!, an evening of song and entertainment that after 22years is the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country. Ms. Ralph has added the critically acclaimed one-woman show Sometimes I Cry, written, directed and performed by Ralph herself, about the lives, loves, and losses of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS to her list of outstanding credits. Sometimes I Cry touches the heart leaving audiences around the world deeply moved and encouraged to know their HIV status. Ms. Ralph, was awarded the first Red Ribbon Award at the UN for her unique use of the arts in HIV/AIDS activism.
Mother of two with a blended family of four, Sheryl Lee loves every moment of motherhood and marriage. Happily married to State Senator Vincent Hughes of Pennsylvania in what Entertainment Tonight called, “The most elegant and romantic wedding!” she acknowledges love is the greatest gift to be given and shared.