So elegant and striking that she deservedly won Ebony magazine's Celebrity Beauty of the Month designation in January 2004 -- with the asset of outstanding dramatic instincts -- actress Sharon Leal achieved stardom in the early 2000s with her multi-season portrayal of no-nonsense schoolteacher Marilyn Sudor on David E. Kelley's groundbreaking small-screen drama Boston Public. The daughter of a Filipino military policeman and an African-American homemaker, raised by a succession of stepfathers, Leal graduated from Roosevelt School of the Arts in Fresno, CA, in 1990, and subsequently landed two ongoing dramatic roles, on the daytime soap Guiding Light and the prime-time UPN drama Legacy (1998). The Public role arrived two years after that, with Leal cast in the program from its inception; after the series folded, the actress segued into movie roles, with turns in the smash musical Dreamgirls (2006) and Tyler Perry's comedy drama Why Did I Get Married? (2007). She had prominent roles in Soul Man, the sequel to Why Did I Get Married, and in Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Mother is Filipino; father is African-American.
- Moved to the Philippines with her parents after she was born and lived there until she was 6 years old.
- Studied voice with Seth Riggs, Michael Jackson's voice coach.
- Had her big break playing Dahlia Crede in the soap Guiding Light.
- Performed on Broadway in Miss Saigon and Rent.
- Showcased her singing talent in an episode of Boston Public, performing a Christmas song.
- Won the 2008 Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Film Actress for her performance in the 2007 feature This Christmas.
- Attended a cheerleading convention to research her role on the CW's Hellcats.