Trailblazing actress Sheryl Lee Ralph won her first Emmy Monday night at the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards for her role in the ABC series Abbott Elementary and made a rousing acceptance speech.
SNL alums Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers were the presenters for the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series award. When they announced Ralph’s name, the emotional actress remained seated, shocked at her win.
With her Emmy trophy in her hands, the Abbott Elementary actress took a moment to collect herself before belting out an acapella version of “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves.
“I am an endangered species,” Ralph sang, receiving praise from the audience. “But I sing no victim’s song. I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs.”
Ralph merited a standing ovation from the audience before finishing her speech.
“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. “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.”
She ended her speech by thrusting her trophy in the air, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The Jamaican-American actress has been acting for over 40 years, known for starring in productions like Moesha (played Moesha’s stepmother Dee Mitchell), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (Florence Watson), Claws (Matilde), and Instant Mom (Maggie Turner).
She has received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in The Mighty Quinn in 1989, NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in the Moesha comedy series (1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002), and a Black Reel Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress for acting in Deterrence in 2001.
Watch the speech below.