The Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS) has inducted Jamaican-American actress Sheryl Lee Ralph into its Wall of Fame in commemoration of National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
Ralph was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the daughter of Ivy, a Jamaican fashion designer, and Stanley Ralph, a college professor.
Ralph was raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island, New York.
Initially, she hoped to study medicine, but after winning a scholarship in a competition at the American College Theater Festival, she gave up medicine for the performing arts.
Ralph began her career on the stage and was nominated in 1982 for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls.
In 1984, Ralph released her only album, In the Evening, in which the title track peaked at number six on the Billboard Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart that same year. In 1988, she went on to star in the Disney movie Oliver & Company, providing the voice of Rita.
Her first leading role in a film came as Denzel Washington's wife in The Mighty Quinn, released in 1989, and in 1992, she starred with Robert De Niro in Mistress.
On television, Ralph was in the cast of the CBS daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow, while starring on Broadway in Dreamgirls.