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Being Brave Award

Sheryl Lee Ralph

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Sheryl Lee Ralph is a multifaceted artist who continues to blaze trails in the entertainment industry. Whether she appears on TV, film, or the Broadway stage, Sheryl Lee Ralph also sparkles as a director, voice and screen actor, author, singer, philanthropist, community activist, wife, and mother.

She can be seen in the Freeform series Motherland: Fort Salem, performing as US President Kelly Wade and closing out the last season of Ray Donovan as Mickey's love, Claudette. Ms. Ralph recently launched "DIVA Defined," a podcast featuring powerful women making moves in their various career paths, and a new digital talk series, "DIVAS Simply Quarantined," on Facebook LIVE.

With continued success on stage, screen, television, and music, along with her philanthropic endeavors, Sheryl Lee Ralph has never been one to rest on her laurels. A triple-threat Dreamgirl, Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical Dreamgirls and earning Best Actress nods for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. She returned to Broadway for a 12-month stint in the Tony Award-winning musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, portraying the sassy chanteuse Muzzy Van Hossmere. Sheryl reunited with Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday for a sold-out, one-night-only Dreamgirls reunion celebrating the 35th anniversary. Last year, Sheryl returned to Broadway as Madame Morrible in Wicked, making Sheryl the first African American actress to take on the classic role on Broadway.  

No stranger to television, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s past TV credits include It's a LivingDesigning WomenThe District, and Moesha. She then spent three years as a lead on the hit Nickelodeon series Instant Mom opposite Tia Mowry and Michael Boatman. At the same time, Sheryl recurred as Claudette for two seasons opposite Jon Voight in Showtime’s Ray Donovan. In between all of that, she snuck in episodes of Two Broke Girls, Smash, and an arc on Criminal Minds for CBS. She can also be seen recurring as Mama Colton on CBS’s MacGyver and on TNT’s Claws. Last year, Sheryl starred as one of the leads in the CBS comedy FAM opposite Nina Dobrev, Tone Bell, Odessa Adlon, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

On the big screen, Sheryl has worked with some of Hollywood's leading and award-winning men with film credits that include The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington; Mistress with Robert de Niro; To Sleep with Anger with Danny Glover; and The Distinguished Gentlemen with Eddie Murphy. Ralph picked up a win for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her performance in To Sleep with Anger. Finding success in writing and directing, Sheryl's award-winning short film Secrets, costarring award-winning actress Alfre Woodard and Robin Givens, was a finalist in the HBO Film Short Competition, Showtime's Filmmaker Award Series, and the BET Filmmaker Award Competition. The film was also selected as the audience favorite at the Outfest Film Festival. Secrets was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Hollywood Film Festival, the Acapulco Film Festival, and the Urban World Film Festival. Sheryl Lee Ralph is also the creator of the Jamerican Film and Music Festival. Most recently, Sheryl did four back-to-back movies: Just Getting Started opposite Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Rene Russo; Christmas at Holly Lodge for Hallmark; Netflix’s Step Sisters with Naturi Naughton and produced by Lena Waithe; and No Sleep 'Til Christmas for Freeform.

Aside from her career pursuits, Sheryl is a fierce community activist and advocate. Ralph produces the annual benefit concert, DIVAS Simply Singing!, which raises awareness for HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases, including COVID-19. This year will mark the 30th year of the event. This year's benefit will be held virtually during the first week of December.

Sheryl Lee Ralph has received numerous community awards for her commitment to service. In February 2020, Sheryl was one of seven creative legends honored for her contributions to the arts and entertainment in the City of Los Angeles. Ralph was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in July 2004 for her HIV/AIDS activism at the 47th National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was also awarded the first Red Ribbon Award at the UN for creating "The Red Ribbon DIVA" T-shirt for HIV/AIDS awareness.

Ralph was awarded Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters for her HIV/AIDS activism from Houston Tillotson University and Tougaloo College. Sheryl resides in Los Angeles and Philadelphia with her husband, Senator Vincent Hughes.

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