Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Sheryl Lee Ralph - The dynamic diva

Published:Monday | January 21, 2019 | 12:00 AM

You may know her as an acclaimed veteran of film and television, or perhaps a soulful singer or author. But this Jamaican/American diva for decades is far more than that. First, she is mother of two, the wife of a US senator and a spirited being who lives for others. In Jamaica for Sagicor's Blast Off, she sat with Flair and shared the many sides of Sheryl Lee.

Born to a Jamaican mother, Ivy Ralph, the motion-picture queen boasts of her Jamaican roots setting her apart from many in the land of dreams. She reminisced on proudly wearing Jamaica's national costume, made predominantly of the bandana plaid to culture day celebrations in the US. A dish of fake ackee and saltfish would usually complement her outfit.

"We didn't have ackee, but that couldn't stop me. So, I would scramble eggs and put them on the plate and it would look like ackee. I also had my song," she said before bursting in laughter and singing "Dis long time gyal me never see you, come make me hold your hand."

 

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING A SENATOR'S WIFE

 

In 2005, she wedded Pennsylvania Senator Vincent Hughes. It's a moment she continues to relish. Before the marriage, Ralph had already set trends, had a booming acting career, and did not intend to divorce her former life. Now, living in two different worlds, we wondered what it's like being a senator's wife.

"It's a very schizophrenic life. As a celebrity and an actress, there is one life, whereas as the senator's wife, there is a whole other realm. There is a different way to dress and be in the public - it's just different. The cleavage you'll have in your celebrity life is not the same you'll have as the senator's wife. But I love it because I love politics," she explained.

Ralph confidently declared that she was born for the political environment. Still, she is yet to explore that arena. No, it's not because she is shy or afraid, but because she loves to tell the truth.

"I'm too much of a people person and for them I'll make many sacrifices. I believe in education, health, and well-being, and if you don't fix those things for everybody, then nothing changes. You can't be like pure capitalists, that's a bad way to be, because it won't help your country," she said expressing dissatisfaction.

 

WHAT'S IN HER BAG

 

"My passport is always in bag, checkbook and credit cards. I never carry cash in my bag and I don't know why, but that's how I always am. Neither do I carry keys and it doesn't matter what kind of keys they are, they are not going in my bag," she told Flair.

Like all doyennes, make-up is a staple you'll always find in Ralph's bag on any occasion. Lipstick and gloss are two of her three must-haves. In fact, a red shade that is equally as powerful as her demeanour and strength is one of her favourites. The other is a nude emerald with a nice brown lip line. Mascara is the last of the indispensables.

Another thing that is always in her bag is daily inspiration notes. These, she writes each morning and carries throughout the day for empowerment.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

For the past 28 years, Ralph has been producing the longest consecutive musical AIDS benefit programme in the US. It's another of her passions, where she focuses on spreading sexual-health education, especially among young adults.

"It's my sacrifice. People need to know that if you can have a green footprint you can have a sexual footprint. You need to know who you are sleeping with. So, when a man tell you "Me no have time for condom," you have to pay attention to those things. That's what causes STDs to run rampant in the island," she emphasised.

She added: "Plus, we need to take care of and help young people. I'm going to be old and I will need them to write my correct prescriptions and be able to read to take care of me well. So, that's where I would make my sacrifice.

rocheda.bartley@gleanerjm.com