Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Children Etienne And Ivy-Victoria On Basking In Their Mom’s Moment
Everyone with a beating heart is enjoying seeing "Abbott Elementary" star Sheryl Lee Ralph have her long-overdue moment; after her rousing, tear-jerking speech after winning her first Emmy in 2022 and then a knockout performance at the Super Bowl this year. It's fair to say we're all thrilled to see the 66-year-old superstar get her flowers.
Yet for every fan applauding Ralph—who appears in Sunday's (Feb. 19) premiere episode of "American In Black," a CBS and BET prime-time news magazine show— after her years of killing it in Hollywood ("Moesha") and on stage (she's one of the original Dreamgirls), there are no bigger fans than her two children, Etienne Maurice and Ivy-Victoria Maurice.
The actress' children are, in this new chapter of her nearly 50-year career, such visible and vocal cheerleaders of their mom that they're part of Ralph's brand. Case in point: Etienne's too-adorable video of when his mom found out she was nominated for that Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy, the video which was picked up by news outlets around the world, or the euphoric moment cameras captured when Ralph actually won. Of course, most kids think their moms are pretty cool. But for Etienne and Ivy, their mom's glow-up hits differently.
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"Everyone's like, 'Oh my God, it's about time,' and you know, 'She's receiving her flowers," Ivy says. "But my brother and I knew from all along what she was capable of. We love seeing her in this light because she deserves it."
Their love for their mom has turned into actual roles on her team, with Ivy serving as Ralph's official stylist while filmmaker Etienne acts as a documentarian and social media architect. It wasn't always this way; both had uniquely different paths carved out with lots of help from mama. Ivy, who graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a degree in economics and retail management, worked in fashion showrooms during school and remembers telling her mom she didn't like styling. "But my mom sent me and my brother to Jamaica every summer," Ivy says.
Ralph's mom, who was also named Ivy, was a fashion designer from Jamaica. The country's government has celebrated Ralph with an Honorary Order of Jamaica decree.
"I grew up in my grandmother's shop, seeing how she was able to dress politicians and beautiful women of the island. So all of that was rooted in who I was." Ivy had been playing dress-up with her mom for years until a recent press opportunity came up for Abbott Elementary, and Ralph asked her daughter for help. Ivy helped, then posted the look, got a ton of love on social media, and presto! Her mom became her first official client. "She was like, 'This is what you're supposed to be doing in life.'"
Older brother Etienne's journey was less smooth but no less meaningful. Both he and his mom freely share details of Etienne's past, which includes struggling with alcohol —resulting in a DUI when he was 21— and even him getting shot in Philadelphia. "She has always reminded us that life is about choices," he says. "And obviously, I was making the poorest choices imaginable growing up. Through those challenging, rough times, my mom always showed compassion. Even through those trials and tribulations, my mom was always there. She really helped with the rehabilitation of me getting back to my better self."
Now he's a respected influencer with a brand of his own, Walk Good LA, which promotes wellness and good living through the arts and creativity. Etienne and Ivy say that growing up, their mom told them over and over that life is about choices—Ivy has it tattooed on her back—and with their mom basking in the glory of a phenomenal career, they're living that first-hand." I think people are kind of falling in love with who we are as a family because we're all using our gifts to help each other," Ivy says.
RELATED: Sheryl Lee Ralph and Niecy Nash-Betts Receive Their Flowers in Star-Studded Luncheon Ahead of the Golden Globes
Another reason this moment feels so great is that they remember when it wasn't. Etienne can recall when his mom's phone wasn't ringing as much. She dealt with the challenging times of being in a profession with natural ebbs and flows. "I've definitely seen all the stages of our mother's career —the highs and lows," he says. "When Moesha got canceled, Mommy really had to figure it out. We stopped going to private schools. Things were a little bit different in terms of our living situation. But our mom definitely made sure we had a roof over our heads, and she did the best she could to provide for my sister and [me]. Ivy had the experience of going to my mom's speaking engagements and selling T-shirts, just having to pay the bills."
Yet if there's anyone who embodies the mantra that tough times don't last, but tough people do, it's Ralph. As she said in her knockout Emmy speech, "Don't you ever, ever give up on you" —a tenacity she got in part, she said that night, from the support of her children.
"She is a powerhouse," Etienne says. "And you know, the Black community —we've always loved her. I think the world is just now catching up. Us? We're like, 'Man, we've been known.'"
For more on the banning of Black History in schools across America, watch “AMERICA IN BLACK” produced by BET and CBS NEWS premiering on Sunday, February 19 at 10 PM ET/PT on BET, BET HER, and VH1, and available on BET+ and the CBS NEWS streaming network.