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Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl

Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl
Your Price: $22.99 CDN
Author: Sheryl Lee Ralph
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 224
Pub. Date: 2012
ISBN-10: 145160842X
ISBN-13: 9781451608427

About the Book:

Secrets about love, life, and Hollywood from Sheryl Lee Ralph, the legendary actress and singer who has played everyone from the original Deena Jones in Dreamgirls on Broadway and to principal Dee Mitchell, Moesha's stepmother, on the hit TV show Moesha. More than just another celebrity memoir, Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl will inspire every woman (and man) who reads it to examine the potential in their own life.

The Tony-nominated and Spirit Award-winning actress, director, and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph did not earn a legion of devoted fans and Ultimate DIVA title by just being a Broadway, film, and television star; she believed that the title Diva – Divinely Inspired Victoriously Awesome – is something far more superior.

• A Diva loves the woman she sees in the mirror.
• A Diva owns her talent and her strength.
• A Diva knows the first step on the road to fame is respecting herself.

Sheryl Lee Ralph originated the role of Deena Jones – elevated first to lead singer, then to the billing Deena Jones and the Dreams, then wishing to leave the Dreams to star in movies – in Broadway's groundbreaking 1981 musical Dreamgirls. But her superstar performance as the original Deena didn't happen overnight. First came a gruelling Hollywood apprenticeship, where roles for young black women at the time were often offensive and demeaning. Sheryl Lee, however, held stubbornly to the values of her mother and grandmother: she wouldn't take any part she couldn't be proud of. Even after joining Dreamgirls – where she helped create a role that grew from her own life story – she would invest years of sweat and tears before the play finally opened to instant acclaim.

With an eclectic career that dates back to 1977, Sheryl Lee Ralph has accumulated enough stories to last a couple of lifetimes. Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island, New York. Summer stock debut at age six. Starred in a high-school production of the musical Oklahoma!, portraying Ado Annie. Pre-med student at Rutgers University at age 16; but, after winning the important Irene Ryan acting scholarship in a competition at the American College Theater Festival, she gave up medicine for the performing arts. At age 19, the youngest female Rutgers graduate. In these highly personal reflections, she reveals her take on her supposed feuds with Diana Ross and Jennifer Holliday, her first Hollywood experience auditioning for Sidney Poitier, on why she exited so controversially from the TV series Moesha, and how she signed away her rights to Dreamgirls for a dollar. She uses her life story to illustrate her vision: black, white, or any other colour of the rainbow, a true Diva is a person of strength, character, and a beauty that radiates from within.

What people say:

"A highly enthusiastic memoir by one of the original Broadway Dreamgirls ... Ralph presents an engrossing story of a woman who challenged Hollywood and its limited roles for black women." — Kirkus Reviews

"In Ralph's sharp account of the stage performance [Dreamgirls], she reveals intimate views of Nell Carter, Quincy Jones, Jennifer Holliday, and especially Michael Bennett, the show's director and choreographer ... She offers stories about Diana Ross, adding new drama to the Dreamgirls saga ... Ralph's involvement in children's charities, politics, and her own Diva Foundation, which promotes AIDS awareness, portrays a deeply compassionate woman. Readers will welcome her honesty." — Publishers Weekly

"Sheryl Lee Ralph has written a book that should be read by everybody! A real page turner to live and learn by." — Deidre Hall, soap opera diva and icon

"Sheryl Lee Ralph is a true D.I.V.A. She uses her powers for good, not evil. This book is truly an inspiration to all who read." — Wendy Williams

About the Author:

Sheryl Lee Ralph is an American actress, singer, author, and Broadway legend. She is Tony nominee and the original Deena Jones in Dreamgirls and Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. On TV, she has played everyone from Moesha's stepmom to the President on Motherland: Fort Salem. Film credits include winning the Independent Spirit Award for To Sleep With Anger. She's the author of Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dream Girl.