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‘WHAT STRIVING LOOKS LIKE!’ Sheryl Lee Ralph Sings Her EMMY Acceptance Speech After Winning Historic Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series Award

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Finally, Sheryl Lee Ralph is receiving the accolades she deserves! The industry vet won an EMMY for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in “Abbott Elementary,” making her just the second Black woman to win in the category after Jackée Harry. Watch her grand acceptance speech, plus Jackée’s reaction to her win inside…


First time EMMY nominee turned first time EMMY winner! Sheryl Lee Ralph is finally getting the respect she deserves.

The industry vet - 65-years-young - won the EMMY award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Barbara Howard in the hit ABC series, “Abbott Elementary.” She became just the second Black woman to score an EMMY in the category after Jackée Harry, who won in 1987 for “227” in 1987. It’s the first time in 35 years a Black woman won the award in the category.

After she made it onstage, Sheryl broke out into song, flexing her vocals to jazz singer Diane Reeves' 1993 song "Endangered Species."

”I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song," she sang. "I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs."


With 45 years of experience in the industry, she then went on to drop some motivational words to anyone out there pursuing their dreams.

"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," Ralph said. "This is what striving looks like, and don't you ever, ever give up on you."

She also thanked her “Abbott Elementary” co-stars, including creator, writer, producer (and EMMY winnerQuinta Brunson, who was the one to approach her about the role, as well as her husband and children for being in her “corner.”

Sheryl’s emotional acceptance speech had us in tears. Watch it below:

Backstage, Sheryl explained her song choice and how she felt when her name was called.

“I’ve been singing that song for years. I think of myself as an artist, as a woman of color,” she said. “I’m an endangered species. But I don’t sing any victim song. I’m a woman. I’m an artist. Find your voice and put it where it belongs.”



”I’m the little 5 year old girl who watched TV on a Sunday night when Tinkerbell went around the steeple,” she continued. “I’m going to Hollywood, I’m to be an actress, I’m going to drive a Mustang. The fact that I’m recognized as being one of the best of the best in my industry in a group of women who are all the best. And top of off, this particular year, tons of great tv! And my little freshman show to be seen for what it is? I got the Golden Ticket.”



Sheryl’s kids were in the audience. Once they heard their mother’s name called, they jumped up in excitement, cheering her on. Check it:






Because queens recognize queens, Jackée Harry took to social media to congratulate Sheryl on her “full circle” EMMY win.


”Winning my Emmy was a career highlight, but it was also a lonely experience," Jackée tweeted right after Sheryl’s win. "For 35 years I've been the only black woman to win Outstanding Supporting Actresses in a Comedy Series. But that all changes tonight… and it's come full circle!"

Jackée then dropped some tea about the original casting of “227.”

"The network originally wanted Sheryl to play Sandra on 227, but I got the part and won an Emmy for it," she wrote. "Now, Sheryl joins me as the 2nd black woman in this category and deservedly so! I'm so exited for her #Emmys win!"

Loves it!

It was a surprise she sung her acceptance speech, however, not a huge surprise since she started her career in Broadway. She won a TONY Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in 1981's Dreamgirls. Speaking of Dreamgirls:



Sheryl now joins EMMY winning Dreamgirls stars Jennifer Hudson and Loretta Divine.

Congrats, Sheryl Lee Ralph!

Photos: Jae C. Hong/Mark Terrill/AP Photo/ Chris Haston/NBC

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