The 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was full of pleasant surprises. Sheryl Lee Ralph made history scoring her first Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. In the mockumentary style series Abbott Elementary , Ralph portrays the stern, yet sweet, kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard. She is the second Black woman to receive this honor, along with 227’s Jackée Harry in 1987.
Clad in a black, strapless gown, Ralph was overcome with shock and excitement, as the crowd rose to their feet. She then graced the stage to accept her well-deserved accolade. As happy tears trickled down her face, the Broadway veteran unexpectedly broke into song, kicking off her speech. Her song of choice: A boisterous rendition of the 1993 Dianne Reeves classic, “Endangered Species”.
“I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim’s song,” she sang. “I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs.” As expected, the crowd roared with satisfaction. After the song, Ralph expressed her deepest gratitude to those who contributed to her journey. These individuals included her husband, her children, and her co-star, Quinta Brunson, who is also the show’s creator. Ralph then concluded her victory speech with soul stirring assurance.
“To anyone, who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you, that this is what believing looks like,” she said frankly . “This is what striving looks like, and don’t you ever give up on you”.
During her lengthy career, Ralph, 65, has acted in a plethora films and television shows. In 1977, the Waterbury, Connecticut native made her screen debut in the comedic film, A Piece of the Action. In 1981, she landed her breakthrough role as Deena Jones, in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. For her breathtaking performance, Ralph earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
Abbott Elementary scored 3 wins out of 7 nominations, including Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series, achieved by Quinta Brunson. The popular series also stars Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Chris Perfetti, and Lisa Ann Walter. Season 2 of Abbott Elementary begins on September 21, 2022, at 9PM on ABC.