Sheryl Lee Ralph has graced the entertainment industry for almost four decades. Her performance as Deena in the Broadway play “Dreamgirls” garnered her a Tony nod in the early ’80s and made her a household name. Thirty years later, Beyoncé played the same role in the movie Dreamgirls. Ralph has paved the way for so many in theater, television, and movies. She is most known for her work on the television shows “Designing Women” and “Moesha,” where she played Brandy’s stepmom.
Rolling out sat down with Sheryl Lee Ralph at the 2016 Black Women’s Expo in Chicago where she shared her biggest lesson and offered advice to aspiring actors.
You have been in the entertainment industry for almost 40 years. What has been your biggest lesson?
I am always learning. I will never not learn. As a result, I am always evolving. Someone asked me how I stay relevant and I think it’s because I am always working towards learning something new.
What are you most proud of?
My children. I have two incredible young people who I know will make the world a better place when I’m gone.
What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Get education, get education, get education! There is nothing worse than a boring actor. Most of the time actors are boring because they don’t know much more than what they are doing. That is the biggest way that people get typecast because they only know one thing.
What keeps you going?
I wake in the morning and pray so I can be powered up to slay and open my heart enough to love.
What projects are you currently working on?
I joined the cast of “Criminal Minds” and completed two episodes. There is talk about me returning next season. I am also producing a musical called “Mighty Real,” which is all about the first disco queen Sylvester. If it comes out before May 7, it will be at the Gramercy Theater on Broadway for one night only. Of course, I am working with my foundation, The DIVA Foundation, which focuses on AIDS awareness. We welcome all support so go to thedivafoundation.org.
What is next for you?
Honey, don’t you think that is enough right now?
Follow Sheryl Lee Ralph on Twitter @thesherylralph.