Emmy award-winning American actress, singer, author, and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph is set to deliver the keynote speech at Jackson State University for its annual Mary E. Peoples Scholarship Luncheon on Sept. 29, 2022, at the Jackson Convention Complex.

This year’s goal is $150,000 and proceeds will benefit the Mary E. Peoples Endowed Scholarship, which provides supplemental financial assistance to high-achieving students in need. The luncheon is named in honor of the wife of JSU’s sixth president, Dr. John A. Peoples Jr., who served from 1967 until 1984.

“Mrs. Mary E. Peoples, first lady emeritus, is a longtime educator best known for her community leadership and service to humanity. Because of her lifelong service in education, the JSU Division of Institutional Advancement is pleased to host this annual scholarship luncheon that bears her name,” says Yolanda Owens, assistant vice president of institutional advancement and external affairs. “ Proceeds will help create educational pathways for students at JSU. We invite all alumni and friends of JSU to partner with us, and we look forward to hearing from our keynote, the highly esteemed Mrs. Sheryl Lee Ralph.”

From performing in both films and television to performing on Broadway, producing, and being a best-selling author, Ralph has earned her spot as a seasoned vet in the entertainment industry.

Ralph is a Tony Award nominee, an NAACP Image Award nominee, and an Independent Spirit Award-winner with an acclaimed career spanning over three decades. She most recently earned her first Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in the hit series “Abbot Elementary.”

Additional credits for Ralph include starring in “Moesha,” “Instant Mom,” Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” and appearances in “Barbershop,” “ER,” “It’s a Living,” “New Attitude,” and “Designing Women,” just to name a few.

On the big screen, Ralph starred in “The Mighty Quinn,” opposite Denzel Washington; “Mistress” with Robert de Niro; “To Sleep with Anger” with Danny Glover; and “The Distinguished Gentlemen” with Eddie Murphy. Most recently, Ralph completed four back-to-back movies, including “Just Getting Started” opposite Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Rene Russo.

Ralph is also an accomplished writer with her debut book “Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the Original Dreamgirl” instantly becoming a national bestseller in 2012. The novel gave readers a personal look into her triumphs and tribulations, navigating life with courage, wit, and strength over the years.

In theater, Ralph is well known for her award-winning work, especially her breakout role as Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.

Ralph is also a passionate health advocate and honored AIDS activist in her philanthropy work. She is the founding director of the DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) Foundation 501(C)3 which she created in memory of the many friends she has lost to HIV/AIDS.

Jackson State University is pleased to welcome Sheryl Lee Ralph as the keynote speaker for the Mary E. Peoples Scholarship Luncheon and is selling tickets for $100.