skip navigation
Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Moesha Season 1 ... Brandy Norwood stars as Moesha Mitchell, a head-strong, young woman who juggles... more info $32.95was $34.95 Buy Now

Community Service ... JD Lawrence stars as JD, a struggling New York actor and playwright who would do... more info $11.95was $14.99 Buy Now

The Distinguished Gentleman ... Take a hilarious look into the world of politics starring Eddie Murphy as a con... more info $6.95was $6.25 Buy Now

Christmas in Compton ... Big Earl the owner of a Christmas tree lot in Compton - and a man with a big... more info $15.95was $19.98 Buy Now

Hook'd Up ... A freelance journalist knows sex sells. With the4 help of a personal ad, he sets... more info $6.95was $9.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 30, 1956 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Waterbury, Connecticut, USA Profession: actor, singer, dancer, director, producer, screenwriter, children's clothing designer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Sheryl Lee Ralph was an American actress, singer, and writer who made a name for herself starring in one of the most legendary musicals in Broadway history, before enjoying a prolific and varied career in both film and TV, paving a path for aspiring African-American performers from all walks of life. Born on December 30, 1956 in Waterbury, CT, Ralph was the eldest child and only daughter of Stanley Ralph, a college professor, and Ivy Ralph, a fashion designer. As her mother was of Afro-Jamaican descent, Ralph spent much of her childhood in Mandeville, Jamaica, before the family moved to Long Island. While attending Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY, Ralph first got the acting bug when she starred in her high school's production of "Oklahoma!" Following her high school graduation in 1972, Ralph attended Rutgers University, where she was one of the first recipients of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and at age 19, became the youngest woman to ever graduate from Rutgers. Ralph took up acting professionally after graduation, making her film debut in "A Piece of the Action" (1977), and then a year later, making her TV debut with a cameo on...

Sheryl Lee Ralph was an American actress, singer, and writer who made a name for herself starring in one of the most legendary musicals in Broadway history, before enjoying a prolific and varied career in both film and TV, paving a path for aspiring African-American performers from all walks of life. Born on December 30, 1956 in Waterbury, CT, Ralph was the eldest child and only daughter of Stanley Ralph, a college professor, and Ivy Ralph, a fashion designer. As her mother was of Afro-Jamaican descent, Ralph spent much of her childhood in Mandeville, Jamaica, before the family moved to Long Island. While attending Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY, Ralph first got the acting bug when she starred in her high school's production of "Oklahoma!" Following her high school graduation in 1972, Ralph attended Rutgers University, where she was one of the first recipients of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and at age 19, became the youngest woman to ever graduate from Rutgers. Ralph took up acting professionally after graduation, making her film debut in "A Piece of the Action" (1977), and then a year later, making her TV debut with a cameo on "Good Times" (CBS, 1974-1979). Ralph's big break came when she was cast as Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of "Dreamgirls," the hit musical loosely based on the rise and fall of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. Critics and audiences alike were wowed by her powerhouse performance, and she was nominated the following year for a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Following the success of "Dreamgirls," Ralph joined the cast of the daytime soap opera "Search for Tomorrow" (CBS, 1951-1986) for the 1983-1984 season, before playing Ginger St. James on the sitcom "It's a Living" (ABC, 1985-1989). She also began appearing more often in films, voicing Rita in the Disney animated film "Oliver & Company" (1988), playing Denzel Washington's wife in the thriller "The Mighty Quinn" (1989), and earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her turn in Charles Burnett's indie hit "To Sleep with Anger" (1990). Ralph appeared alongside Robert DeNiro in "Mistress" (1992), Eddie Murphy in "The Distinguished Gentleman" (1992), and Whoopie Goldberg in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), while also taking a series regular role on the final season of the sitcom "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986-1993). Her next series regular gig came when she was cast as Dee Mitchell, mother to Brandy's titular character on the hit sitcom "Moesha" (UPN, 1996-2001). The early 2000s were a slow period for Ralph, she mostly took guest roles on shows like "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and "Barbershop: The Series" (Showtime, 2005), and even appearing as herself on the reality series "My Super Sweet 16" (MTV, 2005-2009), and "Baldwin Hills" (BET, 2007-2009). She also took a lead role in the Broadway musical version of "The First Wives Club" when original star Adriane Lenox dropped out due to health issues. Her next two series regular gigs came on the sitcoms "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" (TBS, 2006-2012) and "Instant Mom" (Nickelodeon/TV Land, 2013-2015). Ralph was next seen playing Rose on the sitcom "Fam" (CBS, 2019-).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Secrets (1997) Director
2.
  Secrets (1999) Director

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Villa Capri (2017)
4.
 Blessed & Cursed (2010)
6.
 Deterrence (1999) Gayle Redford
7.
 Personals (1999) Chantal
8.
 Secrets (1997)
9.
 Bogus (1996) Ruthie
10.
 Lover's Knot (1995) Charlotte
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1981:
Appeared in over 1,200 performances of the Broadway hit, "Dreamgirls" as Deena Jones, the character loosely based on Diana Ross
1980:
Broadway debut, "Reggae"
1987:
Co-authored book, produced video, "Sheryl Lee Ralph's Beauty Basics"
1990:
Co-starred as Vicki St James in the series, "New Attitude"
1989:
First leading role in features, "The Mighty Quinn", opposite Denzel Wazshington
1999:
Made directorial debut with the 12-minute short "Secrets"; also produced and scripted; aired on "Showtime Black Filmmaker Showcase"
:
Played the title character's stepmother on the UPN series, "Moesha"
2002:
Returned to Broadway in the role of Muzzy Van Meer n the stage musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie"
:
Started own production company, Island Girl Productions
1978:
TV debut on "The Krofft Komedy Hour", an unsold pilot
1992:
Cast as Vegas showgirl Etienne (named after her child) on the long-running series, "Designing Women"
1973:
Named Miss Black Teen-Age New York
1984:
Recorded album, "In the Evening"
:
TV series regular as Ginger St. James on "It's a Living"
2000:
Co-starred as a government official in the political thriller "Deterrence"
1985:
Co-starred in the TV series, "Code Name: Foxfire"
1977:
Professional acting debut in "A Piece of the Action"
2013:
Played Maggie Turner on "Instant Mom."
:
Played Felicia Starr on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."
2019:
Co-starred on sitcom "Fam."
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Uniondale High School: Uniondale, New York -
Rutgers University: New Brunswick, New Jersey -
Rutgers University: New Brunswick, New Jersey -
Negro Ensemble Company: New York, New York -

Notes

Ralph runs the annual L.A. Children's Toy Drive with Denzel Washington.

She produces "Divas", an annual benefit for minorities with AIDS.

Ralph also oversees the design and management of a children's clothing line, Le Petit Etienne.

She filed a million-dollar lawsuit against The National Enquirer for defamation of character and emotional distress.

"Life is a wonderful teacher and since we don't get to repeat class, we must pay attention."- Raplh Ebony March 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Eric George Maurice. Art importer. Born c. 1961; owns store Nu Nubian in California; Ralph filed for divorce on March 8, 2000.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Stanley Ralph. College administrator.
mother:
Ivy Ralph. Fashion designer.
son:
Etienne George-Nelson Maurice. Born in November 1991.
daughter:
Ivy-Victoria Julia Maurice. Born in December 1994.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Sheryl Lee Ralph's Beauty Basics"

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute