Sheryl Lee Ralph

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Sheryl Lee Ralph
Sheryl Lee Ralph.jpg
Ralph attending Black Enterprise Pre-Oscar Party, 2008.
Born Sheryle Lee Ralph
(1956-12-30) December 30, 1956 (age 58)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Education Uniondale High School
Occupation Actress, Singer
Years active 1977–present
Spouse(s) Vincent Hughes (m. 2005)
Eric Maurice (m. 1990–2001) (2 children)

Sheryl Lee Ralph (born Sheryle Lee Ralph; December 30, 1956) is an American actress, singer, and activist. She is best known for her role as Deidra "Dee" Mitchell on the UPN comedy Moesha (1996-2001). Ralph also played the role of Deena Jones in the original Broadway musical Dreamgirls (1981).

Life and career[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Ralph was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the daughter of Ivy, a fashion designer, and Stanley Ralph, a college administrator.[1] Her father was African- American and her mother Afro-Jamaican. According to a DNA analysis, she descends partly from the people of Cameroon.[2] She was raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island. Ralph attended Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY. She starred in a high-school production of the musical Oklahoma!, portraying 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 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.[3] Many years later, she served as the commencement speaker at Rutgers for the Class of 2003.

Ralph is married to Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes. In June 2000, Ralph sued The National Enquirer for one million dollars over a piece they had written about her and her husband.

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.


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 #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. 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 is known for playing Ginger St. James on It's a Living,[4] Etienne Toussaint-Bouvier on Designing Women, and Dee Mitchell on Moesha. She provided the voice of Cheetah in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Ralph produced Divas Simply Singing, which has become an important AIDS fundraiser. She also appeared on the Showtime series Barbershop as the popular, post-operative transsexual 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.[5]

In 2011, Ralph guest-starred in the Young Justice episode "Terrors" as Amanda Waller

In 2013, Ralph will be appearing in the NBC television show Smash as Cynthia, the mother of Jennifer Hudson's character.[6]

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.



Short Subjects:

  • Secrets (1998) (also director and producer)
  • He Knows My Heart (2012)

Television work[edit]

Stage Work[edit]



In the Evening (1984, The New York Music Company)

  1. "You're So Romantic" (4:38)
  2. "In the Evening" (3:50)
  3. "Give Me Love" (3:34)
  4. "Evolution" (4:02)
  5. "Back to Being in Love" (3:01)
  6. "Be Somebody" (3:35)
  7. "I'm Your Kind of Girl" (3:55)
  8. "B.A.B.Y." (3:15)
  9. "Ready or Not" (3:46)
  10. "I'm So Glad That We Met" (3:56)

Produced and arranged by Trevor Lawrence



  1. ^
  2. ^ Growing Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph Proud of Her Cameroon Ancestry
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "The New York Times". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "Tell Us, Miss Jones: Sheryl Lee Ralph Will Be Part of First Wives Club",, June 16, 2009
  6. ^ "Dreamgirls Sheryl Lee Ralph to Guest Star as Jennifer Hudson's Mother in NBC's Smash Season 2!". August 14, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f / Billboard Singles
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 449. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]