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‘I Can Still Remember How I Felt’: Sheryl Lee Ralph Claims a TV Producer Fired Her for Not Being ‘Black Enough’

Veteran actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is one of the most respected actresses in Black Hollywood. However, while reflecting on her nearly four-decade-long career during a recent interview, the former Broadway star recalled a time she was fired from a pilot because she wasn’t Black enough.

“People’s thinking was not very inclusive. You [had] directors who were still trying to tell you how to be Black,” the 65-year-old told People in this week’s issue of the publication. “I was fired from a pilot because the producer told me I was ‘not Black enough.’ Those were his words. It was horrible. I can still remember the way I felt.”

UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 08: Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph visits Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” at Universal Studios Hollywood on December 08, 2020 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

Although the executive’s words were painful to hear, the actress said she didn’t dwell on the issue for too long and instead chose to remain optimistic about the situation, telling the outlet, “It’s all about the lens that you see through.” Still, it wasn’t the first time the entertainment industry had hurt Ralph despite her proven success in projects, including the Broadway hit “Dreamgirls.”

During a recent appearance on the “Unbothered” podcast with host Jemele Hill, Ralph shared that movie executives did not contact her or any of the original cast members when a film adaptation began its production.

“What was hard was when they were doing the movie, and they just acted like you had never created this. They acted like you had never been a part of this, and they were very comfortable x-ing you out,” the singer explained. She continued, “They were very comfortable trying to silence your voice, like nobody needed to hear from you, like you weren’t as important as we are and have been to the show; that hurt.” 

The thespian currently stars on ABC’s hit comedy series “Abbott Elementary” as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard, alongside an ensemble cast featuring Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walter and the show’s creator, Quinta Brunson. 

“We fit together like a zipper,” she said, while raving about the show and co-stars. “We just lock perfectly together, and it is a dream come true for all of us.”

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