Emmys Favorite Sheryl Lee Ralph Reveals She Had a 'Speech Prepared Since I Was 5 Years Old'

·3 min read

Sheryl Lee Ralph may not have expected her Emmys win, but she was certainly prepared!

During her appearance on The Jennifer Hudson Show Monday, the Abbott Elementary star, 65, reflected on winning her first Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy.

As fans know, Ralph's win became one of the biggest highlights of the 2022 Emmy Awards ceremony after she delivered an emotional and inspiring acceptance speech that included singing a verse from jazz singer Diane Reeves' 1993 song "Endangered Species."

When asked by Hudson if she had the speech prepared before her name was officially called, Ralph revealed that it had actually been in the works for years.

"You know what? Like many of you, I have had a speech prepared since I was 5 years old," she told Hudson, 41, which was accompanied by applause from the audience. "I was ready, you know, ever since Tinker Bell came out of that steeple and was starting to make dreams come true, I've been practicing the speech."

However, Ralph admitted things didn't go exactly as planned. "When they called my name, all of it went out of my head," she shared. "I could remember absolutely nothing."

"And you know, center stage is my home so when I got there, it was like, 'Gather yourself, gather yourself because this is your moment!" she added.

74th Primetime Emmys - show
74th Primetime Emmys - show

Getty Sheryl Lee Ralph

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Ralph made history at the 2022 Emmy Awards last Monday after winning the outstanding supporting actress trophy for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard in Abbott Elementary.

The Quinta Brunson-created mockumentary premiered in December 2021 and follows a group of Philadelphia-based teachers working at one of the worst-ranked schools in the country. The ABC series also stars Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti.

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Sheryl Lee Ralph

Ralph became just the second Black woman to score an Emmy in the category after Jackée Harry, who won for 227 in 1987 — a milestone Ralph appeared to celebrate in her scene-stealing acceptance speech.

After taking the stage to accept the award from presenters Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, Ralph burst into song, singing a verse from "Endangered Species."

"I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song," she crooned, holding out several words for emphasis as names of those she wished to thank flashed across the screen. "I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs."

RELATED: Sheryl Lee Ralph on Emmy Nomination: 'Thank God I Didn't Give Up on Me'

After her song — which earned standing ovations from the crowd, including fellow nominees Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Hannah Einbinder (Hacks), Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso), Janelle James (Abbott Elementary), Juno Temple (Ted Lasso), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) and Sarah Niles (Ted Lasso) — Ralph then gave a quick, but moving 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," Ralph said. "This is what striving looks like, and don't you ever, ever give up on you."

"Because if you get a Quinta Brunson, if you get a husband like mine in your corner," Ralph added. "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!"

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Fellow celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé have since sent Ralph flowers to congratulate the star on her historic win.