Sheryl Lee Ralph was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards for her work in Abbott Elementary. Later, she even took the stage at the 2023 Super Bowl to perform the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” At the time, she told Hollywood Life how she prepared for the major moment. “I will be on mental rest, vocal rest, all of that in preparation for my two and a half minutes in front of two and a half million people!” Sheryl said in 2023.
For those who don’t know, Abbot Elementary is a comedy television series based on the experiences at a poorly funded predominantly Black school in Philadelphia. Although the show is fictional, Sheryl Lee Ralph is connected to Philly in real life: Her husband, Vincent J. Hughes, was born in Philadelphia and has been a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania State Senate since 1996.
The highly-anticipated Season 3 of the series is set to premiere on February 7, 2024, and will feature Sheryl as the beloved Barbara Howard once more! Ahead of the premiere, read on to learn more about Sheryl and her Philly native husband, plus her previous marriage.
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Vincent J. Hughes
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Vincent J. Hughes, both 67, met via a mutual friend and immediately hit it off. One of the earliest memories in their relationship that Sheryl has shared with the world is the time when Vincent gifted her a light blue box with a white ribbon wrapped around it. Inside was a Pennsylvania Almanac. “Inside of it he had written: ‘So you will know more about all the things I truly love,’” Sheryl recalled to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I was so fascinated that this man wanted me to know right off the get-go that, ‘I am all about my state, and I love my city,’” she gushed.
The pair walked down the aisle in 2005 at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. Sheryl went all-out for her special day, wearing a silk Tadashi gown with Swarovski-crystal-covered straps, per PEOPLE. She finished her regal look with a $16,000 Mikimoto tiara decorated with pearls and diamonds.
When asked about their secret to success in a 2020 interview with Essence, they said communication and devotion to their mission is key. “You’ve got to be able to laugh together and really, really communicate with each other. Bad communication will mess everything up,” Sheryl explained.
“We believe in each other’s mission and each other’s work, and we’re both very focused on our children and our family,” Vincent added. “I think that really is the foundation. I like what Sheryl’s about. Even when we don’t want to communicate with each other, we do. We pray for the strength to always turn toward each other when we have differences. People have a tendency to turn away. It has worked for us; I can tell you that.”
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Eric Maurice
Sheryl was married to French entrepreneur Eric Maurice between 1990 and 2001. They welcomed their son, Etienne Maurice, two years into their marriage and their daughter, Ivy-Victoria Maurice, in 1995. Little is known about their marriage or why they divorced, but Sheryl hinted that it was not a smooth separation while speaking to Dr. Drew on CNN in 2012. “You go to court … and people play games. They shift things here, they shift things there. Then they wanna talk about your residency. Then they say you lie about the money, then you give them tax returns. It’s like, ‘What do you want?’” the actress vented. She also said there were times she wanted to curse Eric out.
The former Moesha star also said she hated that her children had to be kids of divorced parents. “Your family is crushed,” she said. “I know your kids get hurt … I love my children.” She concluded, “Divorce is like ripping the skin off of your own body … and your children.”
With each of their divorces in mind, Sheryl and Vincent agreed to attend relationship counseling together to ensure they blended their families appropriately. “It was because we’ve both been married and divorced before and we had children to think of,” Vincent told Essence.
Sheryl agreed. “We knew the pain, but we knew we loved and respected each other immensely. We hadn’t even talked about marriage, but we knew we wanted to go to relationship counseling. If you’re honest in your session, you’re leaving everything wide open,” she said. “It was a way to really reveal ourselves to one another with guidance. It was extremely helpful. I would encourage counseling whether you have a blended family or not.”