Sheryl Lee Ralph is now an Emmy winner! The comedian won in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category, beating out her “Abbott Elementary” co-star, Janelle James, as well as Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks”), Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), and “Ted Lasso‘”s Sarah Niles, Juno Temple and Hannah Waddingham.
Ralph serenaded the crowd while accepting her award – her first Primetime Emmy Award in a career spanning over five decades – onstage at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards. Singing Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species,” Ralph delivered a statement with her song before motivating the audience with a beautiful speech filled with hope and gratitude.
“To anyone that has ever, ever had a dream and though your dream, wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, come true, I am here to tell you that is what believing looks like,” Ralph said, beginning her impassioned acceptance speech. “This is what striving looks like.”
She continued, “And don’t you ever, ever give up on you, because if you get a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you get a husband like mine in your corner, if you get children like mine in your corner, and if you’ve got friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Ralph held up her Emmy in victory to the applause and screams from the crowd, who gave the actress a standing ovation.
Created by and starring Quinta Brunson, the critically acclaimed ABC series following a group of dedicated and passionate teachers – and a slightly tone-deaf principal – at a Philadelphia public school came out the gates with aces across the board for the Primetime Emmys, earning nods in the top categories, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
“You know, just like doing ‘Abbott’, when I was doing ‘Dreamgirls’, I knew we were doing something very special. I knew in my heart,” Ralph previously told ET about her role as Barbara Howard on the comedy series. “I grew up around all of these Barbara Howards and, for me, [this] was to just give them life, give them a voice. I didn’t think it was going to be anything that anybody was going to pay this kind of attention to. But I’m thankful.”
When it comes to her career-first nomination, the “Dreamgirls” actress asked, “Ain’t God good? Isn’t it wonderful to have people talking about you that way, you know, isn’t it wonderful that people see your work?”
“I got a call from LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson, and it was simple, ‘We see you, girl. We see you, Mrs. Howard.’ And it was so wonderful! I’m thankful and it means a lot, but I have to tell you, I’m shocked by it,” she added.
Ralph also noted that she wasn’t surprised by the love for the series, saying that “there’s something about the truths we tell every week” that keeps viewers’ attention.
“There’s something about a show that raises the platform for educators, the administrators and all the people that help make our education work,” she added, pointing out how “Abbott Elementary” doesn’t make teachers the butt of the joke but highlights how they are the heart and soul of the show.
“We get to talk about things that need attention. Why should teachers have to be raising money to get supplies in their classrooms? Why is it that there are school districts where the books are 10 years old and teachers are having to play catch up? That shouldn’t be happening in America. We should be doing more for the ‘greatest country’s’ wonderful children,” she said.
“We get to tell some of those truths with “Abbott Elementary” in a way that is smart, that is funny and is needed right now,” she added.
The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards hosted by Kenan Thompson were broadcast live on NBC and Peacock.
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