Sheryl Lee Ralph has brought characters to life on the big screen, Broadway and television, while her philanthropic work has touched countless lives across the world.

Why you should listen

A prominent figure in the entertainment industry, Sheryl Lee Ralph most recently earned an Emmy for her performance on ABC television show Abbott Elementary. Equally at home in theater as onscreen, she created the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical Dreamgirls, earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress, and she recently appeared as Madame Horrible in Wicked. As a writer and director, her short film, Secrets, was a finalist in the HBO Film Short Competition, while her debut book, Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl, was a bestseller when it came out in 2012. The followup, DIVA 2.0, was published in March 2023.

Beyond her career in entertainment, Ralph is a passionate health advocate and activist. She founded the nonprofit DIVA Foundation to raise awareness and provide support to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Their "Divas Simply Singing!" event, an evening of song and entertainment, is the longest running musical AIDS benefit in the US. Ralph was awarded the first Red Ribbon Award at the UN for her unique use of the arts in HIV/AIDS activism and was recently appointed as an AIDS Ambassador for Jamaica's Ministry of Health.

Sheryl Lee Ralph’s TED talk

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Live from TED2023

The dots finally connect: Notes on Session 12 of TED2023

April 21, 2023

After a jam-packed week of ideas, connection and wonder, the remarkable closing session of TED2023 connected the dots, with deep thinking on purpose and the power of self-belief as well as some much-needed challenges to conventional wisdom. The event: Talks from Session 12 of TED2023: Possibility, hosted by TED’s Chris Anderson, Helen Walters and Whitney […]

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