REDEFINING DIVA by Sheryl Lee Ralph


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A highly enthusiastic memoir by one of the original Broadway Dreamgirls.

Actress Ralph embraces the label Diva (“Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed”), and encourages others to discover its meaning and to eschew the media’s image of an overbearing celebrity. Proposing that a real diva is a strong woman who respects herself and others and who promotes positive change, Ralph details the common qualities found in divas. She pairs sensible advice with choice anecdotes that feature legendary performers such as Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross, and she frequently offers life lessons through pithy summations. Despite the author's passion for mentorship, however, the casual, direct address to readers quickly wears thin. Nonetheless, Ralph presents an engrossing story of a woman who challenged Hollywood and its limited roles for black women. Fans of ’80s and ’90s sitcoms will also find memorable passages that largely refrain from gossip. When discussing her TV, film and Broadway roles, which notably included The Jeffersons, Designing Women and Moesha, among others, the author portrays fellow industry veterans with fairness. The book concludes with her work as an AIDS activist, which she first undertook after witnessing the deaths of several colleagues. Her responses to trying circumstances reveal genuine grace and the ability to move forward with forgiveness.

Ralph emerges as a likable woman whose character is unspoiled by success. She is careful to note that family life outside of the spotlight is most important, yet she also accepts the responsibility and power of influence that come with fame. 



Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-0842-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2011


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