Sheryl Lee Ralph (born December 30, 1955) is an American actress, singer, author, and activist. She 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 (1981), for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
Sheryl Lee Ralph
|Born||December 30, 1955|
Waterhouse, Connecticut, USA
|Other names||Sheryl L. Ralph|
|Education||Rutgers University (BFA)|
|Known for||Dreamgirls (Broadway; 1981)|
(m. 1990; div. 2001)
Ralph has appeared in a number of movies during her career. In 1991, she received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female for her role in the drama film To Sleep with Anger. Her other film credits include The Mighty Quinn (1989), The Distinguished Gentleman (1992), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), and Deterrence (1999).
On television, Ralph starred from 1986 to 1989 in the syndicated sitcom It's a Living, and later had the leading roles in the short-lived ABC sitcom New Attitude (1990), and CBS medical drama Street Gear (1995). From 1996 to 2001, she starred as Dee Mitchell in the UPN sitcom Moesha, and from 2013 to 2015 as Maggie Turner in the Nick at Nite sitcom Instant Mom. As of 2022[update], Ralph is starring as Barbara Howard on the ABC mockumentary sitcom Abbott Elementary, for which she has received a nomination for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the upcoming (September 2022) 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Ralph was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the daughter of Stanley Ralph, a college professor and Ivy Ralph O.D., a Jamaican fashion designer and the creator of the kariba suit. She has a younger brother, actor and comedian Michael Ralph. According to a DNA analysis, she descends partly from the Tikar people of Cameroon. 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 the musical Oklahoma!, portraying Ado Annie. Sheryl graduated in 1972. Earlier that year, she was crowned Miss Black Teen-age New York. At 19, Ralph was the youngest woman to ever graduate from Rutgers University; during her time at Rutgers, Ralph was one of the earliest winners of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships awarded by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Also that year she was named one of the top ten college women in America by Glamour magazine. Initially she hoped to study medicine, but after dealing with cadavers in a pre-med class and winning a scholarship in a competition at the American College Theater Festival, she gave up medicine for the performing arts. Many years later, she served as the commencement speaker at Rutgers for the Class of 2003.
Ralph began her career on the stage, and was nominated in 1982 for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls. In 1984, Ralph released her only album In the Evening, in which the title track peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart that same year. In 1988 she starred in the Disney movie Oliver & Company, providing the voice of Rita, a sassy Afghan Hound. Her first leading role in a film came as Denzel Washington's wife in The Mighty Quinn, released in 1989. In 1992 she starred with Robert De Niro in the title role in Mistress. That same year, she co-starred with Eddie Murphy in The Distinguished Gentleman. During the 1990s she also had roles in The Flintstones, Deterrence, and Unconditional Love.
On television, she was in the cast of the CBS daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow while starring on Broadway in Dreamgirls. She is known for playing Ginger St. James on It's a Living, Etienne Toussaint-Bouvier on Designing Women, and Dee Mitchell on Moesha. She provided the voice of Cheetah in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. She also played Florence Watson, the mother of Rita Louise Watson (Lauryn Hill) in the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Ralph produced Divas Simply Singing, which has become an important AIDS fundraiser. She also appeared on the Showtime series Barbershop as Claire. Sheryl brought a new face to the sufferings of war in the NBC hit series ER. Ralph's 2002 project Baby of the Family concerns a young child who is born with a caul over her head, which enables her to see ghosts and the future. Ralph was also featured with son Etienne on MTV's My Super Sweet 16 and BET's Baldwin Hills, as well as an episode of Clean House that also featured her two children, Etienne and Ivy-Victoria (aka Coco), named after Ralph's mother.
On June 16, 2009, it was announced that Ralph would join the cast of the Broadway-bound musical The First Wives Club as Elyse. She replaced Adriane Lenox, who withdrew from the show due to health concerns. In 2011, Ralph guest-starred in the Young Justice episode "Terrors" as Amanda Waller. In 2013, Ralph appeared in the NBC television show Smash as Cynthia, the mother of Jennifer Hudson's character. On February 9, 2013, Ralph appeared at the 2013 Columbus Middle School youth rally in Columbus, Mississippi. In August 2014, she appeared on KTLA Los Angeles Morning News as a fill-in Entertainment Reporter. In November 2014, Ralph appeared on Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn as the rich lady who claims her dog from Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn.
From January 10 to April 11, 2019 Ralph appeared as one of the main characters, Rose, in the television series Fam which ran for one season and was canceled in May 2019. In 2022, Ralph joined the new hit sitcom Abbott Elementary, portraying a 30-year veteran elementary school teacher.
Ralph has been married to Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes since July 30, 2005. In July 2004, Ralph was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority at the 47th National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. In May 2008, Ralph was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Tougaloo College after giving the commencement address. She was married to French businessman Eric Maurice from 1990 to 2001 and they have two children together.
|1977||A Piece of the Action||Barbara Hanley|
|1988||Oliver & Company||Rita (voice)|
|1989||The Mighty Quinn||Lola Quinn|
|Skin Deep||Rose the Receptionist|
|1990||To Sleep with Anger||Linda|
|The Distinguished Gentleman||Miss Loretta|
|1993||Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit||Florence Watson|
|1994||The Flintstones||Mrs. Reneè Pyrite|
|1995||White Man's Burden||Roberta Wellison|
|Lover's Knot||Charlotte Lee|
|1997||Jamaica Beat||Sylvia Jones|
|1998||The Easter Story Keepers||Risa (voice)||Video|
|Unconditional Love||Linda Cray|
|2000||Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel||Nurse Betty Redford|
|2002||Baby of the Family||Mamie|
|2007||Frankie D||Mama D|
|2010||Pastor Jones: The Complete First Season||Mother Kelly||Video|
|The Cost of Heaven||Paulette Randolph|
|Blessed and Cursed||Lady Elise Wright|
|2012||Christmas in Compton||Abuta|
|He Knows My Heart||First Lady Jameson||Short|
|2017||Just Getting Started||Roberta|
|Christmas at Holly Lodge||Nadine|
|2018||Step Sisters||Yvonne Bishop|
|2020||The Comeback Trail||Bess Jones|
|1978||Baa Baa Black Sheep||Elizabeth||Episode: "A Little Bit of England"|
|A.E.S. Hudson Street||Nurse||Episode: "Shut Down"|
|Husbands, Wives & Lovers||Joelle||Episode: "Murray Gets Sacked and Paula Gets Hired"|
|The Krofft Comedy Hour||Various Characters||TV movie|
|Good Times||Vanessa Blake||Episode: "J.J and the Plumber's Helper"|
|1979||Wonder Woman||Bobbie||Episode: "The Starships Are Coming"|
|The Jeffersons||Jeanie||Episode: "Louise's Convention"|
|1982||The Neighborhood||Doris Campbell||TV movie|
|1983||Search for Tomorrow||Laura McCarthy||Regular cast|
|1984||V: The Series||Glenna||Episode: "The Overload"|
|1985||Code Name: Foxfire||Maggie Bryan||Main cast|
|1986||Hunter||Josie Clifford||Episode: "The Return of Typhoon Thompson"|
|Pros and Cons||Roberta||TV movie|
|1986–89||It's a Living||Ginger St. James||Main cast (season 4-6)|
|1987||Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies||Corelle||TV movie|
|L.A. Law||Renee Quintana||Episode: "Beef Jerky"|
|Amazing Stories||Show Singer||Episode: "Gershwin's Trunk"|
|1990||Falcon Crest||Mooshy Tucker||Episode: "Dark Streets" & "Crimes of the Past"|
|New Attitude||Vicki St. James||Main cast|
|1991||The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw||Miss Rosalee||TV movie|
|1992–93||Designing Women||Etienne Toussaint Bouvier||Recurring cast (season 7)|
|1993||No Child of Mine||Marjorie Duncan||TV movie|
|1993–94||George||Maggie Foster||Main cast|
|1994||Witch Hunt||Hypolyta Kropotkin||TV movie|
|1995||Street Gear||Sarah Davis||Main cast|
|1996–01||Moesha||Deidra "Dee" Mitchell (née Moss)||Main cast (season 1-5), recurring cast (season 6)|
|1998||The Wild Thornberrys||Lioness #2 (voice)||Episode: "Flood Warning"|
|1999||Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||Zsa Zsa Goowhiggie||Episode: "What Price Harvey?"|
|The Parkers||Dee Mitchell||Episode: "Daddy's Girl"|
|2000||Recess||Mrs. Lasalle (voice)||Episode: "Me Know No"|
|2000–01||The District||Lt. Dee Banks||Recurring cast (season 1)|
|2001||The Jennie Project||Dr. Pamela Prentiss||TV movie|
|2002||Justice League||Cheetah/Barbara Ann Minerva (voice)||Episode: "Injustice for All: Part I & II"|
|The Proud Family||Aunt Dee/Diana (voice)||Episode: "Romeo Must Wed" & "Behind Family Lines"|
|2002–03||Static Shock||Trina Jessup (voice)||Episode: "Pop's Girlfriend" & "Consequences"|
|2003||Whoopi||Florence||Episode: "She Ain't Heavy, She's My Partner"|
|Las Vegas||Janet Ellis||Episode: "Luck Be a Lady"|
|2004||Justice League Unlimited||Cheetah/Barbara Ann Minerva/Teacher (voice)||Episode: "Kids' Stuff"|
|Da Kink in My Hair||Novelette||TV movie|
|2006||7th Heaven||Nurse Yvonne Rockwell||Episode: "And Baby Makes Three"|
|ER||Gloria Gallant||Episode: "Strange Bedfellows" & "Twenty-One Guns"|
|2007||Odicie||Aunt Amy||TV movie|
|Exes and Ohs||Reverand Ruby||Episode: "There Must Be Rules..."|
|2008||Hannah Montana||Clarice Johnson||Episode: "We're All on This Date Together"|
|2010||Zevo-3||Grams (voice)||Episode: "Control"|
|2011||Young Justice||Amanda Waller (voice)||Episode: "Terrors"|
|2013||Smash||Cynthia Moore||Episode: "The Song"|
|JD Lawrence's Community Service||Carolyn||Main cast|
|2013–20||Ray Donovan||Claudette Boone||Recurring cast (season 1–2 & 7)|
|2014||2 Broke Girls||Genét Bromberg||Episode: "And the Not Broke Parents"|
|One Love||Carolyn Winters||Main cast|
|See Dad Run||Vanessa Ralph||Episode: "See Dad Run Until He Drops" & "See Dad Watch Janie Run Away"|
|Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn||Ms. Edin Dumont||Episode: "The Sad Tail of Gary-Chip-Tiny-Elvis-Squishy-Paws"|
|2013–15||Instant Mom||Maggie Turner||Main cast|
|2016||Criminal Minds||Hayden Montgomery||Recurring cast (season 11)|
|Crushed||Bella Black||TV movie|
|One Mississippi||Felicia Hollingsworth||Recurring cast|
|2017–19||MacGyver||Mama Emma Colton||Recurring cast (season 1-3)|
|2018||The Quad||Ula Pettiway||Recurring cast (season 2)|
|Claws||Matilde Ruval||Recurring cast (season 2)|
|Young Justice||Amanda Waller (voice)||Episodes: "Leverage"|
|A Black Lady Sketch Show||MaryAnne||Episode: "3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"|
|Christmas Hotel||Marnie||TV movie|
|2020||Fashionably Yours||Janet||TV movie|
|Christmas Comes Twice||Miss Nelson||TV movie|
|2020–21||Motherland: Fort Salem||President Kelly Wade||Recurring cast|
|2021–present||Abbott Elementary||Barbara Howard||Main cast|
|2010||BioShock 2||Grace Holloway||Voice Role|
|Reggae||Faith||Original Broadway production|
|1981||Dreamgirls||Deena Jones||Original Broadway production|
|2002||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Muzzy Van Hossmere||Original Broadway production|
|2021||Goosebumps The Musical||Miss Walker||Original Studio Cast Recording|
In the Evening (1984, The New York Music Company)
- "You're So Romantic" (4:38)
- "In the Evening" (3:50)
- "Give Me Love" (3:34)
- "Evolution" (4:02)
- "Back to Being in Love" (3:01)
- "Be Somebody" (3:35)
- "I'm Your Kind of Girl" (3:55)
- "B.A.B.Y." (3:15)
- "Ready or Not" (3:46)
- "I'm So Glad That We Met" (3:56)
Produced and arranged by Trevor Lawrence
- "When I First Saw You" (1983) – US R&B No. 50
- "In the Evening" (1984) – US Hot Dance Music/Club Play Singles #6; UK No. 64
- "You're So Romantic" (1985) - US Club Play #37; US R&B No. 84
- "In the Evening" (remix) (1997) Australia No. 17
- "Evolution" (remix) (1998)
- "Here Comes the Rain Again" (1999) (cover of Eurythmics song) – US Club Play #37; US R&B No. 44
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"When I First Saw You"||1983||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
|"In the Evening"||1984||—||16||18||64||In the Evening|
|"You're So Romantic"||1985||—||—||—||—|
|"In the Evening (Remix)"||1997||17||–||–||—||non-album single|
|"Evolution (Remix)"||1998||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
|"Here Comes the Rain Again"||1999||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|1982||Tony Award||Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical||Dreamgirls||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|1989||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||The Mighty Quinn||Nominated|
|1990||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Supporting Female||To Sleep with Anger||Won|
|1998||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Moesha||Nominated|
|Black Reel Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress||Deterrence||Nominated|
|2002||NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Moesha||Nominated|
|2022||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Abbott Elementary||Pending|
- Henry, Balford (October 9, 2018). "Fashion designer Ivy Ralph dies at 90". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- Blumenthal, Ralph (March 24, 1976). "Kareeba: Jamaica's 'Uniform". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph Proud of Her Cameroon Ancestry, archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved January 29, 2020
- ""Sheryl Lee Ralph a Passionate AIDS Activist", The Caribbean Current".
- "Sheryl Lee Ralph". www.tcm.com.
- "Previous Winners of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship". KennedyCenter.org. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
- Collier, Aldore, "Sheryl Lee Ralph Talks About Her New TV Series And How She Kept A String On Her Finger Until She Found The Right Man", pp 56–58, August 27, 1990, Jet magazine, retrieved via Google Books on February 10, 2010
- League, The Broadway. "Sheryl Lee Ralph – Broadway Cast & Staff – IBDB". Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- "Tell Us, Miss Jones: Sheryl Lee Ralph Will Be Part of First Wives Club" Archived June 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, June 16, 2009
- "Dreamgirls Sheryl Lee Ralph to Guest Star as Jennifer Hudson's Mother in NBC's Smash Season 2!". BroadwayWorld.com. August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- "Sheryl Lee Ralph | Agency For Artists". Retrieved March 7, 2020.
- "Artist Search for 'sheryl lee ralph'". AllMusic. Retrieved October 27, 2016.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 449. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Discography Sheryl Lee Ralph". Hung Medien. australian-charts.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Discografie Sheryl Lee Ralph". Hung Medien (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
- "Discografie Sheryl Lee Ralph". Hung Medien (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "Sheryl Lee Ralph". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- "iTunes Music – Brontosaurus – Single by Tkay Maidza". iTunes Store (Australia). Apple Inc. December 6, 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- "iTunes Music – U-Huh – Single by Tkay Maidza". iTunes Store (Australia). Apple Inc. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- "Tkay Maidza drops new track 'Switch Lanes', national tour dates". Triple J (Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC))accessdate=March 29, 2015.
- "iTunes Music – M.O.B. – Single by Tkay Maidza". iTunes Store (Australia). Apple Inc. February 23, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.