Last night at the 74th Annual Emmy Awards, actress, author and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph snagged her very first Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Abbott Elementary.” This was Ralph’s first Emmy nomination – and now, first Emmy win. Beating out fellow nominees Hannah Waddingham, Juno Temple, and Sarah Niles from Ted Lasso, fellow cast member Janelle James of “Abbott Elementary”, Hannah Einbinder (Hacks), Kate McKinnon (SNL) and Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), a clearly surprised and shocked Ralph took to the stage and broke out in a song.
The performer who made her screen debut in the 1977 comedy film “A Piece of the Action ” before landing her breakthrough role as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” kicked off her acceptance speech with a song. After she sang, she said: “To anyone who has ever, ever, had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like, this is what striving looks like, and don’t you ever, ever give up.”
Ralph’s career spans four decades and includes starring roles in movies, television and theatrical productions.
She was raised in Mandeville, Jamaica and is also a Tony Award winner who has used her voice to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and founded The DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed) Foundation in 1991 in memory of the many friends she lost to the disease. An artistic activist, she created the annual “Divas Simply Singing”, an evening of song and healing, which is now the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country.
Samantha Ofole-Prince / Photo credit: Presley Ann and Rich Polk