Sheryl Lee Ralph is known to many for her iconic turns in the Broadway play Dreamgirls, the classic ‘90s sitcom Moesha and of course, her recent role as Barbara Howard in the highly-touted and tweeted-about ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary.
In an interview with People Magazine, the Tony Award-nominated actress opened up about her illustrious career and the treatment she received as Black woman in the entertainment industry during the 1980s. In the interview, Ralph revealed that a producer fired her from a TV pilot because he thought she wasn’t “Black enough.”
“The producer told me I was ‘not Black enough,'” she recalls. “Those were his words. It was horrible. I can still remember the way I felt.”
Ralph got candid on the issues of race in the entertainment industry in the 80s, specifically painting out the lack of inclusion.
“People’s thinking was not very inclusive,” she explained. “You [had] directors who were still trying to tell you how to be Black.”
This isn’t the first time Ralph has been candid about her journey in the entertainment industry.
In an episode of The View while promoting Abbott Elementary, Ralph revealed that a huge casting director believed she couldn’t be a romantic lead opposite Tom Cruise.
“I had a memorable audition with a big casting director who looked at me and said, ‘Everybody knows you’re a beautiful, talented, Black girl. But what do I do with a beautiful, talented, Black girl?” Ralph said on The View. “Do I put you in a movie with Tom Cruise? Do you kiss? Who goes to see that movie?’”