Sheryl Lee Ralph is a diva on a mission. Her one-woman show, Sometimes I Cry, raises public awareness of HIV/AIDS. Her September 27 performance at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus in Washington, DC, blended memoirs, dramatized oral histories and personal stories she has collected from women affected by AIDS, The Washington Post reports.

Ralph rose to fame in the early 1980s playing Deena Jones in Dreamgirls on Broadway. As those close to her became early casualties of the AIDS epidemic, Ralph was driven to AIDS activism. In the DC event, she played two characters: a 45-year-old entrepreneur and a 68-year-old grandmother. Both are coping with being HIV positive, but as Ralph emphasizes, neither is alone in her struggle.

“If one of us suffers, we all suffer,” Ralph proclaims in the show.