Sheryl Lee Ralph Becomes the First Black Actress to Win an Emmy in 35 Years: Says ‘This Is What Believing Looks Like’

  • Lily Bart by Lily Bart
  • Last updated: 13 Sep, 2022
  • 228
Sherly Lee Ralph

Following the Emmy victory for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph nearly took down the house with a memorable speech. It was one of the most memorable moments of Monday’s show.

Tyler Jesse Williams walked Ralph to the stage, and she was overtaken with emotion as she accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.

The 65-year-old actress broke into song, belting out an intense cover of “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves. A Black woman hasn’t won in the category in 35 years.

“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. This is what striving looks like. And don’t you ever, ever give up on you,” she declared on stage.

Ralph, who performs the role of instructor Barbara Howard in the ABC parody, praised her husband, kids, and “friends who voted for me” for helping her realize her ambition.

Following the show-stopping moment, Zendaya and Abbott creator-star Quinta Brunson were among the celebrities on their feet and applauded Ralph. Following his stirring statement, Ralph received a barrage of adulation on social media.

Ralph took home the prize for her depiction of Barbara, a longtime teacher at Abbott Elementary who is one of the group’s more composed members. Ralph does a fantastic job of playing Barbara’s humorous moments, even though she oftentimes takes things more seriously than the other characters.

Jackée Harry, who won the award in 1987 for her work as Sandra Clark on 227, came before Ralph in this category. Harry expressed the bittersweet quality of the moment after Ralph’s victory, reflecting on her historic victory 35 years prior.

She even disclosed that Sandra Clark was Ralph’s intended role. While praising Ralph, Harry added that she “[has] had a remarkable career AND she’s one of the nicest people in Hollywood. Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary is another fabulous character we’ve been fortunate to watch her breathe life into.

Quinta Brunson, Ralph’s co-star, also created Emmy history with Abbott Elementary. She became the first black woman to win the ‘Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series’ category in solo, second black woman to win the category after Lena Waithe (who shared her win with Aziz Ansari in 2017, and the youngest person to receive a nomination in the comedic acting category. Brunson was nominated in three categories.

Abbott Elementary is about the daily lives of the school’s teachers as they try to provide their kids with the finest education possible. The second season of the program will provide viewers with a closer look at the teachers’ private life.

Catch Ralph and the rest of the cast as Abbott Elementary is all set to release on Wednesday, September 21, on ABC. HBO Max and Hulu both have Season 1 available for streaming.

Are you excited to watch Abbott Elementary season 2? Let us know!

Write for us

Check out the season 2 trailer below:

Lily Bart

Lily is like a wild flower who is sweet yet always on top of her game. She dreams of someday living somewhere warm and writing a novel. She is a passionate binge-watcher and has watched countless movies and shows. She has won all of our in-house movie trivia.