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.
(1983) DreamGirls performing live. Sheryl Lee Ralph, auntie Loretta Devine, & Terry Burrell. Sheryl hasn’t aged a bit 😩😍 pic.twitter.com/d0AzwPLnqO— Oct.22💕 (@BrenikaB_) February 19, 2019
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.”
Original "Dreamgirls" star @thesherylralph says she didn't "get a chance" to give Beyoncé advice about the role: "They said it would be a distraction to have the two of us together." 😖 pic.twitter.com/lMkrRKhZyC— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) January 8, 2019
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.
FIRST LINE THAT COMES TO YOUR MIND? pic.twitter.com/75VmuUAZWX— QUEEN'N™ (@soulfinecyn) October 24, 2020
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.
I'm hearing all this criticism of Hamilton from hip hop heads like, "Oh, the rhymes are wack!" We've got Nas & Rakim for that. It's a Broadway musical, OK? You don't often get this kind of energy, or representation from black & brown people, in these shows. Appreciate what it is— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 4, 2020
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.