Sheryl Lee Ralph needs no introduction, but the iconic actress’ career deserves every bit of praise. She’s spent over four decades in the industry, getting her start as Barbara Hanley in the 1977 film A Piece of the Action. Since then, Ralph has starred in countless career-defining projects. She sang her heart out as Deena Jones in the 1981 original Broadway production of Dreamgirls (and earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance). She played Florence Watson in the beloved film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. And many of us also remember Ralph as Brandy’s stepmother, Dee Mitchell, in the hit ’90s sitcom Moesha.
With a stacked list of film and television credits, there’s no disputing that Ralph has always been a star. However, the last two years have emphasized her status as an entertainment legend. In 2021, the actress assumed the role of Barbara Howard on ABC’s comedy series Abbott Elementary. Ralph’s portrayal of the no-nonsense, passionate veteran teacher has resonated with audiences everywhere. Case in point: Her work on the show led to her first Emmy in 2022, becoming the second-ever Black woman to win the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
2023 is bound to be equally monumental for Ralph. She’s already won a Critic’s Choice Award, been tapped to sing at Super Bowl LVII, and inked partnerships with brands like Microban. Ahead, Ralph fills us in on everything going on in her busy world. She also opens up about her red-carpet looks, beauty routine, and self-care habits.
The One Thing She Loves About Her Red Carpet Looks
“I’ve been having the most fun working with my daughter, Ivy, who is my stylist. It started as something we were going to do just a few times. But every time I had to hit the red carpet, she just kept getting better and better at it. So, now we work together, and we’ve been able to express who I am through style and lift up other young artists, especially young black designers. I am very happy she is so good at making these connections and giving other people their shots on the red carpet.”
The One Thing She Loves About Her Hair Looks
“I like whatever style I wear, whether it’s my natural hair, wigs, or extensions to look like my natural hair. I want my hair to look like it is growing out of my scalp—like natural Black girl hair. I support The Crown Act and all things Black girl magic.”
The One Skincare Step She Never Skips
“I love using eye patches daily to help get rid of bags under the eyes.”
The One Thing She Does For Self-Care
“On a day off, I do absolutely nothing. Just give me a great view and let me breathe some fresh air. That is all I need.”
The One Thing She Said When Asked to Sing at the Super Bowl
“I’m so happy the NFL called my management and not me. If it had been me, I would have said, ‘Don’t prank me,’ and hung up. However, their request was simple, ‘Please sing during the Super Bowl.’ I told my management, ‘What in the world? Are you sure they wanted me?’ And they said, ‘Yes, it’s definitely you.’ Adam Blackstone, the Super Bowl musical director, said, ‘Mrs. Ralph, if they didn’t want you, they would not have asked for you. They could have asked anybody, but they wanted you, and the only thing you need to do is come ready to sing.’ I am so thankful and happy.”
The One Thing She Looks For in Partnerships
“Any partnership I take on has to be authentic. I’ve got to have a relationship with the product. Working with Microban, for example, was seamless because my usual spray disinfectant became unavailable at the start of the pandemic. At that time, I was on the East Coast with my husband, and we realized only a few stores were open, like Family Dollar. We saw Microban products there and purchased them. I was that person in the community that bought a whole bunch and gave them to people who needed them.”
The One Thing She’s Looking Forward to This Year
“I am working on a children’s book, which I’m very excited about. In addition, I’m doing so many speaking engagements all over the place. I enjoy being in the company of audiences everywhere and talking about self-empowerment. I also cannot wait to start filming the third season of Abbott Elementary.”
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