Sheryl Lee Ralph was the first actress to portray Deena Jones in the Dreamgirls. She was nominated for a Tony for her performance in the 1981 Broadway hit. In 2005, Beyoncé Knowles reprised the role for the big screen, going on the garner a Golden Globe nomination.
Surely, advice from the original Deena could’ve come in handy, but according to the veteran actress, she wasn’t allowed to interact with the “Listen” singer while she filmed the critically acclaimed picture.
“I didn’t get a chance to because they kept us apart,’ Ralph told AM to DM. “They said — what was said to me — and, you know, I’ve been around long enough to actually remember what was said to me, they said that it would be a distraction to have the two of us together.”
She went on,“What does that mean? So it just never happened, we never came together.”
Original “Dreamgirls” star @thesherylralph says she didn’t “get a chance” to give Beyoncé advice about the role: “They said it would be a distraction to have the two of us together.” 😖 pic.twitter.com/lMkrRKhZyC
— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) January 8, 2019
Although Ralph was kept away from Knowles, fellow original “Dreamgirl” Loretta Divine landed a cameo in the film, playing a lounge singer.
The original Broadway cast was featured on the cover of the May 1982 issue of EBONY.