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Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl Paperback – March 13, 2012

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Editorial 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

"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

"Every chapter of Sheryl Lee Ralph's new book, Redefining Diva brilliantly interweaves her captivating life story in Hollywood and projects in humanitarianism with inspirational messages to all women to be fearless, to embrace sisterhood, and to have courage to go for their dreams. The Dreamgirl's tome is so well-written, honest and heart-warming that I savored every word, knowing that every woman will find it a comfort and an inspiration." -- Dr. Judy Kuriansky, internationally noted clinical psychologist, United Nations NGO representative, author and TV and radio commentator

"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

"Sheryl Lee Ralph's Redefining Diva is delightful, insightful, humorous and delicious in every sense of the word. A must read for every person looking to be divinely inspired."--Fitness and motivational icon Richard Simmons

"Sheryl Lee Ralph is the epitome of a TRUE DIVA -- she is Divine -- she is Inspired and Inspiring -- she is Victorious in all she does -- and she is Anointed -- all of which comes to light in her extraordinary new book. I am proud to call her Friend!"--Grammy winning diva Patti Austin

"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

"Everyone should read Miss Ralph's book. She is an excellent role model for young people and her continuing fight against AIDS makes her a true humanitarian. Oh, and she is an undeniable Diva!" -- Raven Symone

"If anyone can redefine diva, it's The Sheryl Lee Ralph. This book is truly a gift for all generations. Heartwarming. Poignant. Real. Where the hair and eyelashes end, her "real" diva begins." -- Niecy Nash

"I use to have a negative image of the woman who classified herself as a "diva" until I met Miss Sheryl Lee Ralph. She truly is divinely inspirational vivacious & absolutely blessed! Sheryl Lee has taken the term diva and put it into the practical. I love how she shows you how to go inside and bring the diva out to inspire others. Way to go!" -- Sherri Shepherd, actress, comedienne, and co-host of The View

“In her book, Redefining Diva, Sheryl Lee Ralph does just that! Through personal reflections and testimonials coupled with words of wisdom—both learned and passed down by others—Ralph takes back the word Diva. She owns it, and in doing so encourages Divas from all walks of life to embrace the title that is truly and rightfully their own.”--Cynthia M. A. Butler-McIntyre, National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

With REDEFINING DIVA, Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee Ralph shares her inspiring and insightful life experiences in order that ALL women can celebrate their inner and outer DIVA joyously and gloriously."--Shaun Robinson, Host of Access Hollywood

About the Author

Original DREAMGIRL, Sheryl Lee Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage.
Her award winning body of work includes creating and originating the role of Deena Jones on Broadway in the landmark musical Dreamgirls, which earned her both a Tony and Drama Desk Award Nomination for Best Actress.

On television, Sheryl Lee has starred in It's a Living, her own series New Attitude, the George Foreman series George and in the hit comedy Designing Women. She was also voted one of TV's Favorite Moms for her portrayal of step mom Dee on the number-one rated television series Moesha.

Her extensive film credits include Sister Act II with Whoopi Goldberg, The Flintstones with Rosie O'Donell, The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington, Mistress with Robert De Niro, and Eddie Murphy's Distinguished Gentleman. Sheryl Lee's performance with Danny Glover in To Sleep with Anger won her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Mother of two, Sheryl Lee Ralph loves every moment of raising her children. Recently married to State Senator Vincent Hughes of Pennsylvania in what Entertainment Tonight called, "The most elegant and romantic wedding of the summer!" she acknowledges that love is the greatest gift to be given and shared.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing; Original edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145160842X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451608427
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Sheryl Lee Ralph, Broadway actress and television personality, takes time out from her schedule to pen, Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl. Ms. Ralph talks about her modest upbringing. She learned at an early age that in order to be successful, she had to step out on faith and stand for what she believed. To do that, Ralph detailed the lessons she learned, throughout her career. She talked about her struggles as a young and impressionable black woman seeking fame in Hollywood and as a Broadway actor. Ralph briefly discussed the feuds she had with other actresses and the manner in which she handled them.

Though described as a Diva, Ralph stated that she never believed that she fit the Hollywood description of a Diva. Instead, Ralph has given her definition of what a true diva is. Taken from the book, Ralph stated that a "real diva does not back down against the odds; she or he uses every opportunity and runs with it". She further states that "a mistake is another word for experience- enough experience adds up to success"; and "a true diva takes an active role in his/her life and he/she does not let anyone take control of it".

Prior to reading this memoir, I knew very little about Ms. Ralph. After completing it I felt as if I were having a conversation with a friend. This memoir is not gossipy or told in a negative manner. Ms. Ralph's advice for diva's can be embraced by anyone and everyone.

The memoir was provided by the publisher for review purposes only.

Priscilla C. Johnson
APOOO BookClub
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Format: Paperback
When I heard that Sheryl Lee Ralph was writing a book about womanhood and sisterhood, I immediately pre-ordered my copy. It just arrived in the mail and I simply could not put it down. What a wonderful tribute to living and accomplishing life goals regardless of stumbling blocks, real or perceived. This is a life lesson page turner, and her wisdom will not disappoint! What a triumph!
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I've been privileged to meet Ms. Sheryl Lee Ralph a couple of times. She is a distant relative of mine and I was curious about her book and life story. She truly does, as she says, redefine what it is to be a diva. She tells the truth in this book, without being overly gossipy about her past. She's honest about her mistakes the choices that lead up to her thriving and lasting career. Please, don't mistaken this as just another celebrity memoir. This book has amazing life lessons in it that will encourage anyone who's trying to achieving anything how to do it from the inside out. Ms. Ralph is a total class act and it shows in this book. I hope that she speaks to young people, especially young women in the schools who really need to hear this message. Read it, love it, learn love and tap into your inner diva.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have always known Sheryl Lee Ralph to be an extraordinary actress and admired her endeavors as an activist. Now that I have finished reading her memoir, Redefining DIVA, it is my opinion that she may add the title of brilliant author to her long list of accolades.

Sheryl Lee Ralph shares her mistakes-which she defines as experiences, and life lessons in hopes that they will serve as sources of encouragement and inspiration to the reader-or diva in training, as she refers to the reader throughout the book. Ms. Ralph speaks candidly, but not negatively, about situations involving Diana Ross, Jennifer Holiday, Brandy and other actors, actresses, directors, choreographers etc.

The acronym for DIVA: Divinely Inpired victoriously Alive! It is made clear in this book that a diva is not a woman sporting big hair and lots of attitude, but to the contrary, a diva is described as a woman of strenghth, character, and beauty that radiates from within. She is a woman who has a voice and uses it to speak up, she copies no one and she causes others to sit up and take notice of her-in a good way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a good read and contained colorful stories throughout! Thanks to Mrs. Sheryl Lee Ralph, the next time I encounter an unpleasant/difficult person or circumstance, before I respond, I'll pause, take a deep breath and simply ask myself "what would a TRUE DIVA do?"
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Format: Paperback
I had the good fortune to sit and listen to Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jennifer Holliday talk about their relationship and friendship at a book signing for this book. Ralph turns the word "DIVA" into an acronym for something much more positive than what is typically meant when someone refers to someone as a "Diva." In clear crisp prose, Sheryl Lee Ralph recounts the ups and downs of her life, along with a little sage advice thrown in for good measure. Importantly, she corrects a lot of negative rumors and does so with a grace and clarity that few can. She also destroys the fallacy that, "Dreamgirls" was based on the early career of Motown's female group the Supremes--when the musical clearly was not. However, be prepared; there are some moments in this book when you might need some tissue. While the book is more or less a memoir, rather than a complete autobiography, Ralph shares some extremely joyful and painful moments in her career and in her personal and family's life. A great read by a great performer.
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