This Diva’s a Do-Gooder: Sheryl Lee Ralph Fights HIV One Song at a Time
The former ‘Dreamgirls’ star has been hard at work raising funds for HIV/AIDS organizations.
– Diana Denza
Much like her Dreamgirls character, Sheryl Lee Ralph is a diva. But unlike Deena Jones, this former Broadway breakout star is using her celeb status to fight AIDS.
Since 1990, Ralph has helped raise funds for HIV prevention through her nonprofit organization, the DIVA Foundation. Through her fabulous Divas Simply Singing campaign, the songstress has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for HIV/AIDS groups across the globe.
The 2011 Divas Simply Singing event was held in October and included performances by a star studded cast. The list of powerhouse singers included Glee’s Amber Riley, Bonnie Pointer, and former Dreamgirls stars Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday.
“It’s hard to see that here we are going into the 31st year of AIDS in January 2012 and people still don’t want to know about a disease that is all around them,” Ralph said in an interview with HIV Plus magazine. “That’s why we continue to do Divas Simply Singing. As long as people will come in and pay their money to see a diva strut with her big hair, wild wardrobe, outsize attitude, and the simple gift of song—if that’s what it takes to get people’s attention focused on HIV—that’s what we have to do.”
But that’s not all: other projects include a one-woman show titled “Sometimes I Cry”, educational seminars, and free HIV testing, counseling, and informational pamphlets. Ralph also co-hosts a luncheon where participants must wear gloves to promote the message, “No glove, no love!”.
“It’s amazing how deep the silence is and how deep the silence seems to be killing folks quicker than the disease,” Ralph told the mag. “I was talking with folks at the AIDS [Memorial Quilt] project and they said to me, ‘The AIDS quilt is 50 miles long, and only half a mile is people of color. Because people of color don’t even want to admit or acknowledge they’ve lost their loved ones.’ We’ve got to stop that.”
You can help end the silence through song today! Start by purchasing tickets for an upcoming performance or visiting Diva’s donation page.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.