Squid Game, Succession, Ted Lasso, and The White Lotus all had big nights at the Emmys. Some of the musical selections were bizarre (why did Jesse Armstrong, who won an Emmy for writing Succession, walk on stage to “Shake Your Booty?”) and some of the bits went on for far too long (especially Jimmy Kimmel’s play-dead routine, which continued right through Quinta Brunson’s win for comedy writing for Abbott Elementary).
That Night Belonged to The Wonderful Sheryl Lee Ralph
Although there are certain years when it’s difficult to pick a single highlight from the entire event, that was not the case this time around.
Accepting the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for Abbott Elementary, Sheryl Lee Ralph gave a speech that was not only the finest of the night but one of the best in Emmy history. Possibly never
Ralph went on stage and performed “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves a cappella, which is a difficult feat for most people.
She then gave a passionate, wonderful, and motivating speech about the virtue of never giving up on your aspirations and appreciating everyone who looks out for you.
It’s worth it to save the entire speech on your phone so you can listen to it when you’re feeling low, but the truth is that the speech is hers alone, harnessing the power of her talent and her history.
Her television career began in the ’80s, and this award made her only the second Black woman to win in the category (after Jackée Harry for 227). Although long overdue, it was a welcome sight nonetheless.
Who is Sheryl Lee Ralph?
Known for her roles in films like Grease and music videos like “Cry Pretty,” Sheryl Lee Ralph was born on December 30, 1955. First appearing in the 1977 comedy A Piece of the Action, she found her big break playing Deena Jones in the 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Ralph has made several film appearances over her career. To Sleep with Anger, a 1991 drama film, earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female that year. In addition to Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) and Deterrence (1996), she has also appeared in The Mighty Quinn (1989).
Ralph’s television credits include starring parts in the ABC sitcom New Attitude (1990) and the CBS medical drama Street Gear (1992). He also appeared in the syndicated sitcom It’s a Living from 1986 to 1989.
Ralph is the daughter of Stanley Ralph, a college professor, and Ivy Ralph O.D., a Jamaican fashion designer and the inventor of the Kariba suit. Ralph was born in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Her younger brother Michael Ralph is a famous actor and comedian. DNA testing has revealed that she shares some ancestry with Cameroon’s Tikar people.
She spent her formative years in both Jamaica (specifically Mandeville) and New York (specifically Long Island). Ralph went to high school at Uniondale (New York) High. She was the lead in Oklahoma! musical at her high school. to play the role of Ado Annie. The year 1972 was Sheryl’s year of graduation.
She won the title of Miss Black Teen New York earlier that year. Ralph, who graduated from Rutgers at the age of 19, holds the record for the youngest female graduate from that institution.
During her time there, she was one of the first recipients of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
In Columbus, Mississippi, Ralph made an appearance at a rally for young people on February 9th, 2013. She made her debut on KTLA Los Angeles Morning News in the role of Entertainment Reporter in August 2014.
Ralph had an appearance on Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn in the November 2014 episode “Rich Lady Claims Her Dog from Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.”
She has recently been seen on TV in TNT’s drama Claws and Nickelodeon’s sitcom Instant Mom, where she plays the mother of the main character, Stephanie (Tia Mowry-Hardrict).
Ralph starred as a prominent character, Rose, in the short-lived and ultimately canceled television series Fam, which aired from January 10th, 2019 to April 11th, 2019. In 2022, Ralph played a 30-year veteran elementary school teacher on the new hit sitcom Abbott Elementary.
Her performance earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, making her only the second Black actress to win in the category after Jackée Harry’s victory in 1987 for 227.
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