By Terrance Turner
Sept. 12, 2022
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at tonight’s Primetime Emmy Awards. (Ralph plays Barbara Howard, a kindergarten teacher, on ABC’s Abbott Elementary.) She becomes the first Black actress to win in this category since Jackee Harry in 1987 (for 227.)
It’s the culmination of a four-decade career for Sheryl Lee Ralph, who played Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls (1981). Ralph went on to portray vice principal Dee Mitchell on the UPN show Moesha (1996-2001), which starred Brandy. This is her first Emmy.
When her name was called, Ralph sat frozen in shock. As the audience erupted in cheers, her cast members helped her rise to her feet. And then, once she finally took the stage, Ralph burst into song, singing an a cappella version of “Endangered Species” by jazz singer Dianne Reeves:
“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 in her rousing acceptance speech. “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’ve got friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, loved me….thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
UPDATE (Sept. 12, 9:30 pm): Quinta Brunson, who created, wrote, and executive produced Abbott Elementary, won Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series tonight, for her work writing the pilot. Brunson, who plays second-grade teacher Janine on the show, thanked her family, fans and castmates in her acceptance speech.
After thanking ABC and her co-showrunners for “believing in a story from four years ago and thinking that it would make a good TV show,” Brunson thanked writer Larry Wilmore “for teaching me to write television as well as he did.” (Wilmore was the first black writer to win in this category, for his work on The Bernie Mac Show.)
“I have to thank my mom, my dad, my sisters,” Brunson said, “and I have to thank my wonderful husband, because he’s the most supportive man I’ve ever known.”