‘Redefining DIVA’ author returns to Gary
June 20, 2012 4:36PM
Updated: June 20, 2012 4:46PM
‘When I found out I was coming to Gary, I thought two things: the song ‘Gary, Indiana’ from ‘The Music Man’ and that night Ed Sullivan introduced a group of young boys from Gary,” actress and author Sheryl Lee Ralph said during a book signing June 18 at the Aquatorium.
Ralph is on a book-signing promotional tour for her second book, “Redefining DIVA: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl.” The signing was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services and the Gary chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Gary native Taroue Brooks brought Ralph to Gary since she had a scheduled stop in Chicago earlier in the day.
Ralph debuted on Broadway in December 1981 in the iconic musical “Dreamgirls,” playing Deena Jones. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance.
In between signing books I asked Ralph her thoughts on the motion picture version that earned Jennifer Hudson an Oscar and the musical’s return to Broadway — Gary native and Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts alumnus Chester Gregory starred in the revival from 2009-10.
“I think it’s wonderful and I am proud of the film version and the revival,” she said.
Despite the ongoing construction project along Miller’s beachfront — parking at the aquatorium was diverted to the east side of the building instead of the parking lot — Ralph was in awe of the various beachfront properties, repeatedly saying, “I’m seeing summer homes built along the dunes!”
Ralph, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, was warmly greeted by her sorority sisters from the Gary chapter, including Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
Freeman-Wilson reminded the audience that this was Ralph’s second visit to Gary. The first was last year at the sorority’s Jabberwock celebration.
“We are so excited to have Sheryl back in Gary. She is definitely the quintessential diva,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Ralph said she wrote “Redefining DIVA” because a young woman told her she needed to write and teach women what a true diva is.
“I am not talking about the negative stereotype people normally associate with the term. Today DIVA stands for Divinely Inspired and Victoriously Anointed,” Ralph said. “You love yourself, are anointed by God and you are refined.”