Sharon Leal, 1982 Actress, Is an A-List Beauty With a Message

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10:  Actress Sharon Leal attends the Premiere Of Summit Entertainment's 'The Impossible' at the ArcL
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10: Actress Sharon Leal attends the Premiere Of Summit Entertainment's 'The Impossible' at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome on December 10, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

I remember the day I first saw my mother's cousin Maude walk into the room. Her white-chocolate skin; long, dark brown hair that hit the middle of her back; almond-brown eyes... she was enchanting. I don't ever recall seeing anyone as beautiful as she was.

Every time my mom said she was coming over, I was excited and looked forward to her visit. As if she was a living doll, I wanted so badly to play with her hair and listen to her melodic voice as she and my mom conversed.

And our long treks to the Bronx from Brooklyn to visit her were not as painful, because I just wanted to be around her. I believe she was a nurse by profession, even though I felt she should be in movies or magazines. She was that beautiful. The funny thing about Maude was that she always seemed shy about her beauty and was almost uncomfortable with any compliments about her looks. I never quite understood that, but now I do. I find that most women of substance don't rely on their beauty, looks and vanity to get them through this life. They find a craft, and depend on their education to provide for them. Maybe that was what I had picked up on, and taken it for outward beauty. Though, whatever it was, it made an impression on me. I knew back then that I wanted to be like her and like my mother -- hardworking, educated career women that people respect.

The multi-talented Sharon Leal is an actress, a dancer, a singer and a mother. She is, perhaps, best known for her roles in movies -- she starred in Dreamgirls alongside Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx. She also starred in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, Why Did I Get Married Too? and This Christmas. No stranger to the small screen, she has appeared on Boston Public, The Guiding Light, Hellcats and Suits.

Leal is the daughter of a Filipino mother and an African-American father. She has received numerous accolades from the Asian Excellence Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Film and a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Leal has also been nominated by the Broadcasting Film Critics Association for Best Acting Ensemble, and her list of acknowledgements continues, demonstrating her dedication to her craft. What a wonderful path to be on, and what a beautiful legacy to leave behind for her child. Leal is comfortable knowing that her son is well cared for while she is traveling for work. She prides herself on being a good mom and a positive role model, both to him and other young African-American children, who definitely need good images of those working hard and contributing to society.

Leal's role in the upcoming film 1982 sparked her interest because of the impact drugs had on this woman, her family and the lives surrounding her. I look forward to seeing the finished product, because it is such a contrast to the glamorous characters she often plays.

Leal continues to grace us with her presence in film and on television, and at first glance, you would think "diva!" Not at all. She is as humble as she is talented. And she is quite captivating.