Culture

Life Lessons From Sheryl Lee Ralph: The Original Dream Girl

Fri., Jun. 8, 2012 8:46 AM EDT
by Christina Crawford Steed

Reclaiming Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl by Sheryl Lee Ralph

sheryl lee ralph

Famed actress Sheryl Lee Ralph just published her first book recounting her life as an actress in Hollywood, her rise to stardom, becoming an activist, and what makes a true DIVA. Reading this book is like having a conversation with Ms. Ralph as she provides the reader with the real deal lowdown about the highs and lows of her experiences building her career. Through it all, she maintained a commitment to remain true to herself and the values her family instilled in her as she carved out her space in the white space of Hollywood.

Ralph opens up about her family’s influence on the type of DIVA woman she became, often fueling her commitment to taking on dramatic roles that would only show black women in the best light and always remembering her family’s matriarch saying, “when you walk into a room, your whole race walks with you.” She also talked about today’s generation of women having a misinformed notion of what a real DIVA is — and that it’s actually not the majority of the women portrayed as divas in media or the entertainment landscape. 

Ralph delivers her lessons in an engaging story wrapped around the significant achievements in her life — from her start with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby to her well known roles on Broadway in Dreamgirls and on the hit television show “Designing Women.” While she does share the true Hollywood story behind the good, bad and the ugly during her career (the unfortunate Diana Ross thing), she does it with such class and reverence that it merely serves as a lesson learned to the reader and not a juicy tell-all bit of info.

This is a thoughtful book for young girls trying to come into their own as the next line of divas, as well as more mature ladies who have always been admirers of Ralph’s career trajectory and live their DIVA everyday. Valuable life lessons indeed from a true and venerable DIVA.

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