Sheryl Lee Ralph Admits, I’ve Had This Speech Ready Since I Was Five

On Monday’s episode of The Jennifer Hudson Show, the 65-year-old Abbott Elementary actress recalled her first Emmy win, which she received for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy.

Ralph’s acceptance speech, in which she sang a stanza from jazz singer Diane Reeves’ 1993 song Endangered Species, was widely regarded as one of the night’s most memorable moments when she won an Emmy in 2022. When Hudson inquired if Ralph had written the speech before her name was called, Ralph said that she had been working on it for years.

Okay, I’ll tell you what: She told Hudson, 41, “Like many of you, I have had a speech planned since I was 5 years old,” to enthusiastic applause from the crowd. Ever before Tinker Bell emerged from the steeple and began turning wishes into reality, I had been rehearsing my acceptance speech.

In spite of this, Ralph conceded that not everything went as planned. She explained that “everything just went blank” as they shouted her name. Not a single thing stayed in my mind. The spotlight is my natural habitat, so when I finally made it to the center of the stage, I thought to myself, “Now is your time! in her explanation she said.

Last Monday, Ralph made history by becoming the first-ever recipient of the outstanding supporting actress trophy at the 2022 Emmy Awards for her portrayal of kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard at Abbott Elementary.

The mockumentary, which was written and directed by Quinta Brunson and premiered in December 2021, follows a group of teachers in Philadelphia who are employed at one of the country’s lowest-performing schools. You may also catch Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter, and Chris Perfetti on ABC’s show.

During her scene-stealing victory speech, Ralph became only the second Black woman to win an Emmy in the category, joining Jackée Harry, who won for 227 in 1987.

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