Actress’ HIV play will break silence

Wake up is what actress and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph says she hopes people will do after seeing her one-woman stage play “Sometimes I Cry.”

Ralph is scheduled to bring the show, which deals with the loves, lives and losses of women who are infected with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, to Florida A&M University’s Lee Hall on Feb. 9.

“What inspired me to do the show was the time that I spent on Broadway in the ’80s doing ‘Dreamgirls,'” Ralph said in an exclusive interview with the Capital Outlook. “It is hard for people to remember the time when your friends would just drop dead of a mysterious disease. They were dancing next to you one day, and they were sick and dead the next day.”

The play, which deals with “real women’s real stories surrounding HIV and AIDS” and their unique trials with dealing with the virus, has ignited necessary conversation for the past two years, according to Ralph.

“That (silence) is surrounding women and people of color, and we seem to be silent ourselves in the fight for survival,” a passionate Ralph said. “This is a disease that has been known to destabilize countries; to eliminate towns. We cannot let that happen within our community.

“And worse than that, we cannot let it happen to our children. People are getting infected younger and younger and this is unacceptable,” she continued.

According to the Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among blacks ages 25-44. In Florida, African Americans, who make up 14 percent of he population, make up 51 percent of people living with the virus.

“We want people to know that this is real and we want them to start participating in programs and getting the information,” said Sylvia Hubbard, the executive director of Minority Alliance for Advocating Community Awareness and Action Inc.

Hubbard’s organization is promoting the “Sometimes I Cry” event.

“I’m hoping people will understand that this one sexual act, this one sexual encounter, puts you at risk when you are having unprotected sex.”

Ralph is the celebrity spokeswoman for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, observed on Feb. 7. The awareness day is a national mobilization effort designed to encourage black people across the nation and territories to get educated, tested, treated and join the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Tickets can be purchased at Settles Beauty Salon, the MAACA office, or Brick House Fashions. Tickets will also be on sale at the FAMU box office Feb. 9 from noon-6:30 p.m.

Prices are $7 for general admission, $5 for students and free for FAMU students with valid ID.

There will also be an open forum for further discussion following the show.

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Stephanie Lambert may be contacted at