‘Abbott Elementary’ Star Sheryl Lee Ralph Says She’s Growing ‘Wise’ at 66

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Sheryl Lee Ralph on Aging and Growing ‘Wise’ at 66Tommaso Boddi - Getty Images

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  • Abbot Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph opens up about aging in a new interview with Preveniton.

  • “There are so many people who feel that as you age you feel that you have to grow old. You can grow wise. You can grow wonderful,” she tells Prevention.

  • Ralph is partnering with MadeGood to give money to teachers across the U.S.

Sheryl Lee Ralph plays kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on ABC’s Abbott Elementary, going above and beyond for her students. Much like her character, Ralph gives back in real life—in both wisdom and with the help of MadeGood, teaming up with the snack brand to give away up to $200,000 to over 1,000 teachers across the U.S. Now, the star is opening up about aging and some of the life lessons she’s learned over the years.

“Aging is a gift because there is definitely an alternative. Choose one. I choose living, I choose [to be] alive—but that is my choice. There are so many people who feel that as you age you feel that you have to grow old. You can grow wise. You can grow wonderful,” she tells Prevention.

At 66, Ralph’s decades-long career shows that talent has no expiration date. She won an Emmy last year for her role in Abbott Elementary, proving that hard work pays off. And she says this is the case for living life to the fullest, too. She has a “100-year-old mother-in-law,” from whom she’s learned a lot. “There are so many people who do not know how to treat somebody who has aged well in life. They don’t know what to do; what to tell them. Geriatrics is something that we need to pay more attention to. If you have aged well,” she says.

And when it comes to setting yourself up for a long, healthy life, she says, “Walk,” And ask yourself, “Did you drink your water?”

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She’s been preparing for a long life for years, she told AARP in July. “My father used to tell me, ‘You’re going to live a long time, so you’ve got to take care of yourself. Eat properly. Exercise.’ My life has been about preparing for longevity,” she told the outlet. “Finding my joy, making great choices for me, understanding that life is not always fair. Sometimes it’s your day. Sometimes it’s not your day. But if it’s a good day or a bad day, you’ve got to thank God because you got a day.”

Growing up with a teacher as a father, and in a “family of educators,” it seems like her role as Barbara Howard was kismet. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Howard on the next season of the Emmy award-winning show. In the meantime, we’ll get our fill of the star in her memoir, Diva 2.0.

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