Sheryl Lee Ralph OJ (born December 30, 1956) is an American actress and singer. She made her screen debut in the 1977 comedy film A Piece of the Action, before landing the role of Deena Jones in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls (1981), for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical nomination. She currently stars as Barbara Howard on the ABC mockumentary sitcom Abbott Elementary, for which she won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, and became the first Black woman to win the award in 35 years.
Ralph has appeared in a number of films during her career. She starred alongside Denzel Washington in the film The Mighty Quinn (1989). In 1991, she won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female for her performance in the 1990 comedy-drama film To Sleep with Anger. Ralph starred in the 1992 films Mistress and The Distinguished Gentleman. She later played the role of Florence Watson in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993).
Ralph has also starred in the syndicated television sitcom It's a Living (1986–1989), the short-lived ABC sitcom New Attitude (1990), the Nick at Nite sitcom Instant Mom (2013–2015), and, in 2016, played Madame Morrible in the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked. Her role as Dee Mitchell, in the UPN sitcom Moesha, (1996–2001), earned her five nominations for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.