Sheryl Lee Ralph Reveals She Was Not Allowed To Come Around Beyonce While Filming Dreamgirls, Says ‘They’ Said It Would Be A Distraction

To be a fly on the wall in Hollywood…I tell ya. The confounding moves and decisions made behind those in positions of power closed doors that later come to light…

Sheryl Lee Ralph, an actress with a five-decade career who portrayed Lauryn Hill’s strict mother in Sister Act 2, Dee Mitchell on Moesha, and countless other appearances in film, television and animation voiceovers, dropped a strange and shocking revelation: that she was prohibited from meeting Beyonce on the cinematic production of DreamGirls, a role she won a Tony award for during its original run as a Stageplay.

It would be during a relatively recent interview with Buzzfeed’s AM 2 DM program that Ralph would publicly recount her experience, “I didn’t get a chance to because they kept us apart. They said—what was said to me—and, you know I’ve been around long enough to actually remember what was said to me, they said that it would a distraction to have the two of us together…What does that mean? So it never happened, we never came together.”

Perhaps the creative team behind the 2006 film wanted a completely fresh interpretation and thusly, used the most extreme means to keep Beyoncé’s performance as lead character Deena distinct from Ralph’s. Perhaps it was Beyoncé herself. Until more information comes forward, inquirers can only speculate on the inner workings of the production and the rationale behind such draconian measures.

The Original Broadway musical ran from October 1981 through August 1985 and garnered a fair share of acclaim. But as many will point out, the live, theatrical experience is quite different from the cinematic one, be it in a Cineplex or the comforts of a well-worn sofa in a personal living room. The disparity in reception to the award-winning (and all the rage for close to a decade, now) Hamilton Stageplay between those who were able to see it in person versus those who watched it on the Disney+ streaming services is no small gulf.  The stage is louder, bolder while the camera tells more of the story in film. 

However, it should be remembered that Ms. Ralph is a veteran of both spheres and has a mastery of craft in acting for the screen. While the future Mrs. Carter-Knowles turned in a fine performance, even earning a Golden Globe nomination, there may have been benefits from soaking up whatever she could from the veteran Sheryl Lee Ralph.

2006 was more than a decade ago but the manner in which Ralph speaks about it feels that subject remains an unsavory wound.

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