Beyoncé was kept apart from original 'Dreamgirls' star Sheryl Lee Ralph, actress says

Sheryl Lee Ralph, the actress who originated the role that Beyoncé played in the 2006 movie Dreamgirls, might have had some advice to share with the singer. After all, in 1981, Ralph was the first person to portray Deena Jones, a character loosely inspired by Diana Ross of the Supremes. Her performance in the original Broadway production earned her a Tony Award nomination.

But Ralph revealed Tuesday that she never connected with Beyoncé.

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Original Dreamgirls star Sheryl Lee Ralph. (Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

“I didn’t get a chance to because they kept us apart,” Ralph said on BuzzFeed’s Twitter show AM to DM. “They said — what was said to me — and, you know, I’ve been around long enough to actually remember what was said to me, they said that it would be a distraction to have the two of us together.”

When the host appeared confused, the Claws actress empathized.

“Yeah, that’s what I said, what does that mean? So it just never happened, we never came together.”

Beyoncé attends the Dreamgirls premiere in 2006. (Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

For what it’s worth, Beyoncé did just fine on her own, despite having appeared in only a handful of movies before Dreamgirls. In fact, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance. (Her co-star Jennifer Hudson took home that trophy, just as she would the Oscar, for playing Effie White.)

Ahead of the movie’s high-profile Christmas release, the “Irreplaceable” singer revealed that she’d lost 20 pounds to play the star of the Dreamettes.

“At the beginning [of filming], I was my normal weight,” Beyoncé told People in May 2006. “I actually gained a little bit, but then I lost 20 pounds when I went from young Deena to old Deena. I wanted it to be something more than just makeup and hair. I wanted to see the change.”

The film version of Dreamgirls went on to be a hit at the box office and win a pile of accolades, although Beyoncé was shut out of the best actress category at the Oscars.

The star’s next high-profile acting job is doing the voice of Nala in Disney’s CGI version of The Lion King, slated for release later this year.

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