The name Sheryl Lee Ralph is almost synonymous with Dreamgirls, the Broadway musical in which she established her bona fides as a singer and actor and was nominated for a Tony Award to boot. Actor, singer, author and activist, Sheryl’s foundation was set with the support of Jamaican parents Ivy Ralph a noted fashion designer and Stanley Ralph a college professor, (both deceased).
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut and raised between Jamaica, W.I. and Long Island, NY, Ralph’s journey to stardom aligns with the proverb “slow and steady wins the race”. On track to study medicine, Ralph graduated Rutgers University holding the title as the youngest woman to graduate the college at the age of 19. After graduation, Ms. Ralph embarked on a tour with the U.S.O., which led to her move to Los Angeles and the beginning of her film career.
Her first feature film, A Piece of the Action, was with the late great Sidney Poitier, who, according to a recent NY Times interview, had this to say: “You’re so wonderful, you’re so talented. And I’m sorry this industry has no more to offer you.” Those words did not discourage Ralph but drove her further to expand her potential and be successful in spite of the challenges that stood before her.
At the beautiful age of 65, Sheryl Lee Ralph has accomplished a great deal and continues to live a life that defies the odds. Most recently many of you experienced her joy as she celebrated her first Emmy win for the TV sitcom Abbott Elementary, but Ralph’s resume is rich with years of experience including at least 31 film credits, some of which are, The Mighty Quinn, Skin Deep, To Sleep with Anger, Mistress, The Distinguished Gentleman, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, White Man’s Burden and Deterrence. As an author she released her first book – Re Defining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl. To date Ralph was nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, won The Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Black Reel Award, Tony Award and received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Ralph also recently received a TV Humanitarian Award from The Creative Coalition and an Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Her additional achievements include her induction to the Delta Thigma Theta sorority and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Tougaloo College.
Ralph’s career on the stage, has been quite notable, beginning with her first Broadway appearance as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, followed by her role as Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Madame Morrible in Wicked and Miss Walker in Goosebumps The Musical.
Despite her celebrity status and huge talent Sheryl remains modest and grounded in her achievements, she is happily married to State Senator Vincent Hughes, a mother to two children, Ivy-Victoria Maurice and Etienne Maurice and lives with her family in Pennsylvania.