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Jamerican ‘Dreamgirl’ dedicates ‘One Night Only’ to AIDS

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Jamerican actress Sheryl Lee Ralph could be spending her time tweeting and sitting pretty in the White House if she wanted.

Asked to join the Donald Trump supporting cadre to “Make America Great Again” the thespian who starred as one of the original cast members in the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls” gave a flat-out ‘no’ to her friend Omarosa Manigault who tried to recruit her to join the Trump team.

Ralph has always been decisive about her career.

The daughter of Dr. Stanley Ralph — a supportive father born in the USA and Jamaican fashion designer mom Ivy — Ralph decided and calculated every step before committing to films “Sister Act 2” with Whoopi Goldberg, “Distinguis­hed Gentleman” with Eddie Murphy, “The Mighty Quinn” with Denzel Washington, television’s “Moesha,” “Designing Women,” “ER,” and created the role of Deena Jones in the hit Broadway musical.

Of her proposal to move to Washington D.C, the bold and beautiful actress reportedly told the hosts of the Hollywood Today TV talk show “Omarosa and I meet at this church event. “And she said, ‘Sheryl, I am going to the White House. I will have an office in the White House. I am riding this train and I’ve got a ticket for you if you would like to come along.”

“I was like, ‘Girlfriend; Imma have to miss that train.”

Although the two power women might have added diversity to the predominantly white White House, Ralph opted out.

Ralph said she politely declined the offer saying “We don’t share the same politics; we don’t share the same thoughts.”

“But, I like her,” she said about the former Apprentice reality celebrity.

Ralph attributes much of her boldness to being a Jamaican immigrant.

Although she was actually born in Connecticut, she often describes herself as a Jamerican.

Back in the 90’s she launched the Jamerican Film Festival in Montego Bay and there she showcased films on the beach, inviting Harry Belafonte, Richard Roundtree and James Bond 007 actor Roger Moore to the midnight outings.

Throughout the years, she asked those celebrities to moderate seminars and challenged student filmmakers from UWI to complete projects that were judged for content and quality.

Last Sunday, the Tony award nominated actress hosted a charity concert at the Metropolitan Room and although she talked at length about her dream island, her upbringing and the path she took to landing choice roles, she neither mentioned Omarosa nor the president or even the opportunity she declined to work near the West Wing.

Instead she talked about eradicating HIV/AIDS.

A passionate AIDS activist, she continued an awareness campaign she started 28 years ago when she founded The Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware (DIVA) Foundation.

Currently starring on Broadway in “Wicked” she devoted a cabaret concert billed “One Night Only” to memorialize colleagues and friends she lost to HIV/AIDS.

Because of her concern for the threat of the infectious disease to women and children she launched the organization in California in 1990 and has annually held fundraisers to that aim.

In her work of Driving Infectious Viruses Away, the foundation focuses on awareness, testing, erasing stigma, lowering of the infection rate and aided the development of new and effective programs to combat the disease using the arts.

The foundation disseminates information, and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically artistic feminine point of view.

The United Nations has honored her activism and efforts with the first Red Ribbon Award.

Rich in creativity and spirit, Ralph designed a successful line of socially conscious red ribbon T-shirts which offer responsible messages in style and beauty.

“Our awareness campaign has grown to include: town hall meetings, prevention seminars, free HIV testing, HIV/AIDS counseling, free healthcare materials, and of course, the annual DIVAS Simply Singing! benefit concert.”

It is the longest consecutive running musical to benefit HIV/AIDS. Throughout the years she has enlisted support from Rosie O’Donnell, Me’lisa Morgan, Faith Evans and a whole slew of celebrities.

Joining her onstage during the SRO showcase in Manhattan, her son Etienne Maurice, daughter Ivy-Victoria aka CoCo, husband Pennyslvania State Senator Vincent Hughes and Ben Harney who was a member of the original “Dreamgirls” cast.

Clifton Davis, star of the Broadway musical “Aladdin” also used his night off to laud the singer / actress / activist.

He took the stage to relate how as a judge of the Miss Black Teen Age pageant when Ralph was a teenager, he prophesied her rise to stardom.

Crowned Miss Black Teen-age New York, at age 19, Ralph was the youngest woman to ever graduate from Rutgers University.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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