This is truly the season of Sheryl Lee Ralph. But, don't get it confused, the Abbott Elementary actress has been doing her thing for decades—the world is just finally taking notice. When we see Ralph, she's also displaying an immense joy that is often contagious. And, we all hope to live the same way.
She recently took to the 2023 TED Conference stage to share a little of that joy with attendees. EBONY had a chance to speak with Sheryl Lee Ralph fresh off the heels of the 12-minute talk, an accomplishment she says was harder than any acting role she's ever portrayed.
"It was great! It was a challenge; it was different. I'm typically an extemporaneous speaker. I get up, speak from my heart, and tell you how I feel based on the vibe in the room. But this was different. This was putting thoughts together and having the right message. This meant I had to take time and write all of this down and assemble my thoughts," explains the actress. "I had an incredible coach along the way. It was quite the journey, and I'll even admit there were moments where I thought I couldn't do this, especially with everything else that I'm doing. I enjoyed it, though, and it came off really well."
Over the last year, we've seen the Jamaica native finally begin to receive her flowers—something we've all hoped for, for years. For the actress, becoming an overnight sensation after 40 years in the industry is certainly a joy. But, she emphasizes that she's always been happy with exactly who she is, and she loves that the world can finally see and experience that with her as well.
"For me, being able to live my life as I am is something I have always done. I look now and all that has happened over this last year for me. To be able to walk out in the world, and still be able to enjoy what I do and have people enjoy what I do, is wonderful. But now, more and more people are able to share the joy I have being who I am," shares Lee Ralph. "And they are now able to enjoy exactly who they are. It's nothing new to me. I have always believed that my joy is my joy and no one can take that away from me."
While her joy comes pretty naturally, Ralph shares there are a few places and things that help take her happiness to new heights. One being visiting her homeland of Jamaica and traveling the continent of Africa.
"It's wonderful to be in places and seeing people who look just like you thriving, doing wonderful things and living in their joy. I love it! " exclaims the actress. "Also, the conversations that I have with myself each and every morning when I get up, realizing that God has been so good to me. Millions didn't make it. And I am one of those that did. He woke me up in my right mind, and I got a second chance to do everything all over again. For me, that's magic, baby! "
We asked the actress to share her advice on ways that we, too, can walk in our joy and happiness.
"I can't say it enough, but you must be able to look in the mirror and love what you see," she says. "From the kink to the curl, to the dreadlocks to the relaxation, to the press and curl of it all. The light, bright white, to the dark as night. To the big-boned thick girl, the tall one and short one. You have to be able to look in the mirror and love all of that, knowing that's the way God made you. And, no matter what you think about it, it's perfect. Take better care of yourself, do that for you. The better you are to yourself, the better you can be for everyone else."