Sheryl Lee Ralph Once Fired For Not Being Black Enough

“I can still remember the way I felt.”

If you’re a fan of ABC’s hit sitcom Abbott Elementarythen you already know and love Sheryl Lee Ralph as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard.

Sheryl’s an accomplished veteran of the stage and screen, with a list of roles going back several decades — but she’s faced struggles alongside her many triumphs, too.

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In addition to appearances on TV shows like Moesha, Clawsand Ray Donovanshe was also nominated for a Tony for her performance in the original Broadway run of Dreamgirls.

In a new interview with People, Sheryl revealed that she was once fired from a TV pilot because a producer told her she wasn’t “Black enough.”

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“I was fired from a pilot because the producer told me I was ‘not Black enough,'” she said while talking about her experience in the 1980s. “Those were his words.”

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“It was horrible. I can still remember the way I felt.”

Abc / courtesy Everett Collection

“People’s thinking was not very inclusive,” she recalled while talking about Hollywood’s cultural climate back then. “You [had] directors who were still trying to tell you how to be Black.”

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This isn’t the first time Sheryl’s talked about facing discrimination in the industry. She told another story about a casting director’s comments on The View just last month.

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“[I] had a memorable audition with a big casting director who looked at me and said, ‘Everybody knows you’re a beautiful, talented, Black girl,'” she recalled.” ‘But what do I do with a beautiful, talented, Black girl ? Do I put you in a movie with Tom Cruise? Do you kiss? Who goes to see that movie?”

When she was asked to name the person who said that to her, Sheryl had the perfect reply: “Why bother? Look at me now.”

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You can watch that entire interview here.

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