By Lorrie Grant, Black Books and Reviews.com
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph beams from the cover of her new book resplendent in red, draped in pearls, and as if you couldn’t already figure out an apropos title, there it blings: “DIVA.”
Ralph tells you up front that the diva she’s speaking of is not the familiar trope assigned to the uber needy or those who otherwise think too highly of themselves. Instead she redefines diva using acronyms:
Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed
Definitely Inspirational and Vivaciously Alive
Daringly Inquisitive and Valiantly Aware
She gives you a number of versions not because she wants you to pick, but because she wants you to create your own simply by embracing the diva that you already are.
Throughout the book she leaves diva lessons – “A diva always finds her joy,” “A diva doesn’t quit,” “Real divas have their highs and lows,” “A diva knows when to make an exit” – that saw her through a successful career in the movies, on TV and Broadway’s smash hit “Dreamgirls.”
Ralph knew early on that she was special. Academically gifted, her working-class family headed by her dad who was an educator boosted her self-esteem. They saw her through youth beauty pageants that exposed her flair for the dramatic as well as her historic entry into Rutgers University – at 16, she was in the first class to accept women and was one of only two African-American women admitted.
She started out trying to become the doctor or lawyer her mother wanted. But something about a dead rabbit and scalpel put in front of young Sheryl made her bow out of her Organic Chemistry on the first day; and she couldn’t stomach Constitutional Law any better. But while wandering