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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sheryl Lee Ralph producing HIV/AIDS documentary
2022-10-29

This article shared 583 times since Sat Oct 29, 2022
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Recent Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph has signed on to produce Unexpected, a documentary short about women of color living with HIV in the South, Variety reported.

Directed by Zeberiah Newman, the film will chronicle Masonia Traylor and Cici Covin as they create care packages for pregnant women newly diagnosed with HIV and invite them into a safe network of support and services.

Ralph, who earned her first Emmy in September for her work on Abbott Elementary, launched The D.I.V.A. Foundation in 1990 as a way to honor the many friends and colleagues she lost during the early days of the AIDS epidemic while she was starring in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls. The foundation has raised more than $3 million for awareness programs and partnerships with support organizations to provide critical services to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, women and children, and are inclusive of persons of color.

When Windy City Times asked Ralph in 2012 what factor contributed the most to the rise in infection rates, Ralph responded, "It's the same factor that plays in the rise of any disease: silence. Silence is the fertilizer [the disease] needs to grow. It's the same thing as when you're a binge eater and you think you're all alone and you're quiet about it. With breast cancer, there was a time when people would not say "breast" and "cancer" out loud. So many diseases grow in silence."

She added that her HIV/AIDS activism launched "when I couldn't cross one more name off my phone book. It was that many. You would get sick and tired of asking, 'Whose memorial am I going to now?' It was awful."

Unexpected is currently in post-production and is aiming for a film-festival run in early 2023.


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