Sheryl Lee Ralph Discusses:Life, Career, and Memoir

Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph has not only been able to have a career of longevity but also one of quality. By playing characters who are strong , spunky and confident art has imitated life for the actress. Ralph gives an in depth reveal into her life, career, and lessons learned along the way in her new book: Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl. Jozef Syndicate reporter Cameron James caught up with Ralph before her trip to Baton Rouge. They talked about the book, why she took on the fight against AIDS as personal mission, and how Black women can discover their inner beauty.

Many celebrity memoirs rely heavily salacious details and scandals, while your book does give exciting Hollywood revelations its is very far from a typical “tell all” was this something you avoided on purpose? Absolutely. I am tired of the same ole same ole. People just regurgitating the nasty parts of their lives. [I’m] tired of it! I want young and young at heart people to know that we can ALL do better. God wants us to be better.

I read in your book you walked up to Harry Thomson, one of the producers of the hit show Designing Women, and said that a show set in Atlanta needed to have more Black people and joined the show the following season. Has Hollywood’s view of Black women changed since then? Do Black actresses still need to be that aggressive with roles? I was only stating the obvious and it landed me a role in a wonderful TV series. I worked with Meshack last week in a Christian film. The image of Black women in reality TV has skewed to loud, Black witch but they spell it with a B. This must change. We are doing a disservice to young women that will last for generations.

Should Black women demonstrate that type of aggressiveness with any dream? Yes!!! Dream bigger and go for it!! You describe a Diva as a woman of strength character and beauty. How can young women live up to that definition when society is portraying that beauty is mainly something that is external? Read my book and then read it again! Beauty on the inside can’t help but shine on the outside.

Baton Rouge has one of the highest rates for new positive HIV diagnoses annually in the country, what should people in cities with high rates of infection know?
Talk about testing. Testing is so important. It can actually change your life for the positive. Visit testogether.org for more information. My husband, Sen. Vincent Hughes, and I founded this. And June 27th is National HIV/AIDS Testing Day, invite me to perform my one-woman show, “Sometimes I Cry,” which deals with real women’s true HIV/AIDS stories http://www.sometimesicry.org

Eventhough information about HIV/AIDS is now abundant, there are still a majority of sexually active people who do not know their status. Why do you believe that is? People just don’t want to know. They don’t get tested. They are afraid of their own past sexual behavior. Look at it just get tested like you would for any other disease. You and your health really matter.

What projects are you currently working on now?I’ve been approached about turning the book into a show. Writing another book. I just did another Gospel film.

After writing this book and having such a long career in this industry what is something your fans would still be surprised to discover about you?I LOVE Twitter (@thesherylralph) and I am a a Funkateer! We love the Funk!!

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