AAEA President and Sheryl Lee Ralph on Congress Panel
Original DREAMGIRL, Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award winning body of work includes creating and originating the role of Deena Jones on Broadway in the landmark musical Dreamgirls, which earned her both a Tony and Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Actress. After Dreamgirls, Ms. Ralph turned her attention to music, television and film. She scored a top-ten selling dance hit in the mid-eighties and again in the nineties.
Actress, Activist, Social EntrepreneurAward-winning actress, singer, and producer Sheryl Lee Ralph has embraced the role of AIDS activist. In 1990, she founded The Diva Foundation, a national not-for-profit 501C(3) charitable organization as a memorial to the many friends she had lost to HIV/AIDS. Diva Foundation's goal is to focus on generating resources and coordinating activities to create awareness of and combat the pressing issue of HIV/AIDS. The DIVA Foundation utilizes music and entertainment as a vehicle to inform, educate and erase the stigma still attached to this deadly disease. The organization’s first production was Divas Simply Singing, a star-studded, fundraising extravaganza, produced by, and featuring Ms. Ralph and a host of committed Divas, the likes of Chaka Khan, Stacey "Fergie" Ferguson, Miss Nancy Wilson, Loretta Devine, Melissa Manchester and Raven Symone. This annual event has helped raised millions and put the Diva Foundation on the map as one of the pre-eminent AIDS-awareness organizations.
Ralph is a graduate of Rutgers University, and is a member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni. She holds the distinct honor of being the first woman to graduate from Rutgers College, a once all-male institution, and an accomplishment she achieved within just three years at the age of nineteen. In 2004, Ms. Ralph was inducted into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. because of her steadfast commitment to arts, community and women's well being. Ms. Ralph resides in California with her children and is married to Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes.