La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Sheryl Lee Ralph

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

6 Questions: Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph's D.I.V.A. Foundation is co-presenting Richard E. Waits' solo musical, MAMA ROSE, opening this week at The Club @ La MaMa and she was kind enough to take time out to answer 6 Questions for our blog:

1. How did you meet Richard E. Waits and get involved with his production of MAMA ROSE?

In many ways our meeting was the seed that began and grew into Mama Rose. We were working together in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre on a Musical version of the hit film First Wives Club and there was something about Richard and I said, "honey you are a show waiting to happen, write it. That show is being birthed as Mama Rose.

2. What is The D.I.V.A. Foundation?

The D.I.V.A. Foundation is Divinely Inspired Victoriously AIDS aware. I found the foundation as an original company member of "Dreamgirls" on Broadway when I stood witness to what I call an ugly time in America. I saw my friend suffer and die from a mysterious disease nobody wanted to talk about it much less do anything about it and so I created a living breathing memorial out of The D.I.V.A. Foundation called "Divas Simply Singing" and every year we raise up the memory of my friends who were good people, kind people somebody's father, sister, brother, but most of all my friends.

3. Your breakout role as Deena in Dreamgirls had a book by La MaMa veteran Tom Eyen. Were you very aware of his “downtown” work at the time?

There was no way I could not be aware of his connection to La MaMa! It was as if he wanted me to know everything about him, so his downtown connection was very much a part of what made him an uptown Broadway success and it was not easy.

4. You work in theater, film and TV - which do you prefer?

There is nothing like being on the stage, nothing like it, there is no safety net of an edit there, is no safety net of can we stop and take that again. It is your complete connection with your material with your art, with yourself and getting on the stage, that tight wire and performing without a net. When I perform my one-woman show, Sometimes I Cry, which is based on real women's real stories dealing with HIV and AIDS, I can stand on that stage and I fly.

5. What was the last good book you read?

I am constantly rereading my own book Redefining Diva because very often I do speaking engagements built around the book. I'm always becoming reacquainted with things I've said and wrote. When I connect with an audience at a speaking engagement and people are moved, and learn something to better themselves. I'm like wow! I've been of service.

6. Who inspires you?

I'm so inspired by my mother who is still kicking it and reinventing herself at 85 I'm so inspired by my children who take to learning with all of its ups and downs and have the good sense to look at their mother and say, "okay, so you were right again!" I'm inspired by my husband who loves me so wonderfully every chance he gets and is a good human being. I'm inspired by my mother-in-law who at 90 is still driving herself doing everything she can, handling three properties and making it all happen for her community.

La MaMa presents

Book, Music & Lyrics by Richard E. Waits
Directed by Paul Stancato

January 30 - February 08, 2015

The Club @ La MaMa
74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors. Ten tickets priced at $10 are available to the first buyers - in advance only, while they last - for every performance.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE 

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