Sheryl Lee Ralph Reflects On The Struggles She’s Faced As A Black Woman In Hollywood

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Sheryl Lee Ralph reflected on her journey as a Black woman in Hollywood during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that was released on Wednesday (January 24th). The Abbott Elementary actor spoke about her love for Quinta Brunson and shared the advice her former costar, Robert DeNiro, once gave her.

While filming the 1992 movie Mistress, Ralph said the Taxi Driver actor told her, "You're a damn good actress, but you need to climb that mountain and let them know that you are here, because Hollywood is not looking for the Black girl, and you need to be seen."

She explained, "They see you as a prostitute. They see you as the mistress. They see you as the housekeeper. They see you as not the leading lady, so that's why it feels so good to not only be a leading lady, but to have Quinta …"

When Winfrey asked the Designing Women actor what it meant to her to witness Brunson’s success, she replied, "It says that every boulder that had to be moved, every hurdle that had to be jumped over, every time I had to use my voice to speak out for more for women in general, but especially for Black women who were being shut out just because of the color of their skin …”

She added, “When I look at Quinta, who are looking at her and I said, 'That's my child right there.' And I see my child coming up over the mountain. And I'm like, 'Yes, here we are.'"