Sheryl Lee Ralph won the Emmy award for supporting comedy actress on Monday night. For playing Barbara Howard in “Abbott Elementary,” this was not only the veteran actor’s first-ever Emmy win, but her first nomination.
Ralph was clearly shocked to win the award, at first unable to stand when her name was called. After being lifted up by her castmate Tyler James Williams, she took the stage to accept her award, which was presented by Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.
In tears, she opened her speech by singing “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves: “I am an endangered species / But I sing no victim’s song / I am a woman I am an artist / And I know where my voice belongs.”
“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 continued. “This is what striving looks like. 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 get friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, loved me … thank you, thank you!”
In the audience, Ralph’s son and daughter hugged each other and jumped up and down, celebrating their mother’s win.
The next day on Instagram, Williams wrote about how proud he was to be there for Ralph’s special moment.
This was the second Emmy win for “Abbott Elementary,” which took home the award for comedy casting at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 4. Brunson, who created and stars in the series, won the award for comedy writing later on in the night.
Before starring in “Abbott,” Ralph was best known for starring as Deena Jones in the original cast of “Dreamgirls” on Broadway, which earned her a lead musical actress Tony nomination, as well as for playing Dee Mitchell in the UPN comedy series “Moesha.” Her other prominent credits include “To Sleep With Anger” and “Deterrence.”