Sheryl Lee Ralph

Actress, Singer, Author, & Activist

“I love, love, love live performance. It's like walking a tightrope without the net. You better be on point; you better be balanced. You better have rehearsed it and seen it from every vantage so you can do what you do best. I do love film because it's up front in your face, and hopefully you've got a great editor.”

Sheryl Lee Ralph 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 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph, then a future singer and actress, was born on 30th December in the year 1956. She drew the first breath in Waterbury, Connecticut in the family of Stanley and Ivy Ralph.

Her parents worked as a college professor and a fashion designed respectively. The mother of Sheryl Lee Ralph had Afro-Jamaican roots, while her father was of an African-American descent. Even though the future actress was born in Connecticut, she spent her childhood mostly in Jamaica’s Mandeville and Long Island.


This section of her biography began with the Uniondale High School, a school in the suburbs of New York, which Sheryl Lee Ralph attended. When she studied at the school, she already starred if a school musical.

Before graduating from the school in 1972, she could already enjoy the title of the Miss Black Teen-age New York. Later, she graduated from the Rutgers University at the age of 19, and so she was the youngest woman who graduated from that university. While studying there, she won a scholarship from the KCACTF, and this was a decisive happening that prompted her to go for the career of an artist, not a medic as she previously wanted.

Career Experience

As soon as Sheryl Lee Ralph started her career in acting, she achieved an enormous success. In 1982, she was a star in the musical Dreamgirls for which she was nominated for a Tony Award as a Best Actress in a Musical.

Two years later, she released her first and the only album under the title In the Evening (1984). The album’s song under the same name was in the top part of the charts. In 1988, Sheryl Lee Ralph starred for the Oliver & Company movie, produced by Disney. A year later, she got an offer to play her first leading role in The Mighty Quinn (1989). In 1992, she played one of the main roles in collaboration with Robert De Niro.

Sheryl Lee Ralph

The career of Sheryl Lee Ralph was especially successful in the 1990s when she played mostly main roles in more than 10 movies. Later, she appeared in various TV series, such as the ER, and in reality TV shows. In 2002, Sheryl Lee Ralph launched a project titled Baby of the Family.

The actress played with her children in such TV shows like the Clean House, My Super Sweet 16, and the TV series named Baldwin Hills. In 2013, it was announced that the actress would join NBC to appear in the Smash TV series. As for now, Sheryl Lee Ralph takes part in mostly TV series and reality TV shows.

Personal life

Sheryl Lee Ralph celebrated a wedding with Eric Maurice, her first husband, in 1990. She has two children from the marriage with him: a daughter, named Ivy-Victoria Maurice (who was born in 1995), and a son, named Etienne Maurice (who was born in 1992). In 2001, however, the couple decided to divorce. In 2005, Sheryl Lee Ralph married Vincent Hughes, a Senator in Pennsylvania State.


Sheryl Lee Ralph featured in over 60 movies, TV series, and TV shows. During the last time, the actress has starred in the following TV series: 2 Broke Girls (2014), One Love (2014), Ray Donovan (2013-2014), See Dad Run (2014), Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn (2014), and Instant Mom (2013-2015).

Quick Facts

Birth Date:
December 30, 1956

  • Was originally considered for a potential spin-off of the 1970s television series Wonder Woman (1975) but the project never made it past the green-light phase. Her ties to the show continued though as, 25 years later, she portrays Wonder Woman's nemesis “The Cheetah” in the animated Justice League(2001) series.
  • Played “Muzzy van Hossmere” in the original cast of the Broadway production Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002 Tony winner for Best New Musical). While in the stage show, Muzzy is a black character, in the film she was white, played by Carol Channing.
  • Dreamgirls is considered by many as a loosely-based account of the meteroic rise of the 1960s super girl-group The Supremes. Sheryl's Deena Jones’ character closely follows the path taken by Diana Ross.
  • She was the first woman to graduate from Rutgers College at the age of 19. She missed her graduation to get a Skippy Peanut Butter commercial. She did get to wear a cap and gown on May 2, 2003 as the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2003.
  • She appeared in the music video and sang in the choir on the song “Voices That Care.”
  • She played Brandy's mother in the long-running series Moesha.
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph


BIO: +
PHOTO: ThemesByHippy + AuMag + Broadway + InfoVisual + NYPost

Last Updated

March 2020

Original Published Date

January 2019

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