Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph, 66, can finally add Emmy-Award Winner to her long list of accolades after snagging the award on Monday at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles.
As she took the stage to accept her award, she made a nod to women everywhere by using the opportunity to sing a capella, bringing the audience to its feet in standing ovation.
“I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim’s song,” she sang during her acceptance speech. “I am a woman, I am an artist. And I know where my voice belongs.”
The Moesha actress won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy for a role as Barbara Howard, the infectious teacher on the Abbott Elementary show.
“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 said in her speech after singing the Dianne Reeves song called Endangered Species. “This is what striving looks like. And don’t you ever ever give up on you.”
She then thanked her co-star and Abbott Elementary creator, Quinta Brunson, her husband Vincent Hughes, a Pennsylvania Senator and her two children.
The Rutgers alumna began her career in the late 70s and rose to stardom after being nominated for a Tony Award in 1981. She has since been in highly-successful movies, including Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, The Distinguished Gentleman and To Sleep with Anger. She is most known for her role as Deidra “Dee” Mitchell in the hit series, Moesha.
The honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated almost gave up on acting, she said in a WUSF interview. “‘What are you doing?’ she remembers asking herself. “And I said, ‘Well, actually, I’m not doing too much. That must be because you must not want to do too much or you’ve forgotten who you are.’ And I was like, ‘Wow. What a perfect moment.’ And it really took that moment to reexamine my career, reexamine who was representing me and get out there and get better representation, which I did with my current manager, Lisa Wright. And what she was able to do, with the trajectory that she was able to put me on, is exactly where I am, exactly where she told me I deserve to be.”