Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Emmy acceptance speech will be one of the most talked about moments of the night.
LOS ANGELES — Veteran actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, a timeless industry force who won her first Emmy at the age of 65, celebrated her win by yelling powerful lyrics about being an “endangered species,” and others implored himself to never give up, no matter how long it takes to be seen.
Ralph took home television’s top award for best supporting actress in a comedy on Monday night for her role as Barbara Howard, a popular, matriarchal kindergarten teacher on Abbott Elementary, the ABC “mockumentary” sitcom about cocky teachers in a pathetic way underfunded Philadelphia public school.
Tearfully, before gathering to accept the trophy at the Microsoft Theater, Ralph opened her acceptance speech with a powerfully performed acapella rendition of Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species,” belting out, “I’m a woman, I’m an artist/ And I know where my voice belongs.”
“Anybody who’s ever had a dream and thought their dream wasn’t going to come true, couldn’t come true, I’m here to tell you that’s what faith looks like,” Ralph explained before shaking her fist. “This is what striving looks like!”
Ralph’s honor comes after decades in the business with several iconic roles – from Broadway’s Dreamgirls in the 1980s, to stepmother and the title character in the 1990s sitcom Moesha.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Ralph expressed enthusiasm for diversity at the Emmys, praising the Korean language Squid Game and her own black-majority show Abbott Elementary.
“The fact that this is the first time since the 1980s that people in a majority-Black cast have all been nominated, the first time in 40 years,” Ralph said. “The fact that it’s my first nomination, my first invitation to the awards and you know what? Nothing before its time. Everything is on time. And I’m glad to be here ’cause I’m sailing baby I love it.”
Before the awards ceremony, Ralph spoke on the red carpet about finally being appreciated in Hollywood, saying she initially thought playing Mrs. Howard would be a thankless gig.
“I only did my job because I felt like it. I figured I was just picking up a check there,” Ralph said in an interview with People magazine. “I had no idea people would see the subtleties in the work. It’s very easy for people to overlook the layers that you sometimes bring as an actor. And they saw everything.”
She also recalled how, decades ago, legendary actor Robert De Niro advised her to move on, even though Hollywood “wasn’t looking for the black girls.”
“Thirty years later I see my nomination and thank God I didn’t give up because it was a tough climb but it’s worth every step,” said Ralph just before her win.
Radiant in a strapless black velvet dress with an orange bottom and a thigh slit, Ralph rocked a dazzling high ponytail, drawing social media attention to her sexy, age-defying look.
“You can’t do it by 30, you can do it by 50,” Ralph said in an interview with E! “You can’t do it at 50, you can do it at 60 and still do them good.”
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https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/sheryl-lee-ralph-y-wins-emmy/507-ce4f1322-bf89-4d77-b2fe-1e54a7123f41 Sheryl Lee Ralph from ‘Abbott Elementary’ Emmy speech and song