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“I’m an endangered species.” – Sheryl Lee Ralph, Abbott Elementary

Veteran actress Sheryl Lee Ralph made history at the 2022 Emmy Awards on Monday, September 12, as a supporting actress for her role in Abbott Elementary. 227 alum Jackée was the first Black actress to win the award back in 1987.

Today in TV History: Jackée Harry, Sassy Neighbor to Maaaaaaary, Was Born | Decider
Photo + Everrett Collection

Who doesn’t remember when the actress played Rita Louise Watson’s (Lauryn Hill) mother on Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit?

Presenters Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler took the stage and announced the nominees and Ralph’s peers went wild after her name was read.

The actress sat in shock for a few seconds before getting up to accept her award. After getting to the stage, she took a minute and began singing a line from “Endangered Species” by jazz singer Diane Reeves.

“I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song,” she sang. “I am a woman, I am an artist, and I know where my voice belongs.”

WATCH this historic moment below:

 

Even more touching were her words that followed about keeping dreams alive when you don’t believe they’ll manifest,

“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.”

She added,

“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!”

Earlier this year, the Delta Sigma Theta member appeared on The View and told the ladies about a time when she was complimented for her looks. However, would her appearance sell in a move with Tom Cruise?

A casting agent asked her,

“‘Do I put you in a movie with Tom Cruise? Do you kiss? Who goes to see that movie?'”

During an interview in April, Ralph recalled a moment when she was dismissed from a TV pilot during the 1980s and the residual feeling that was left,

“People’s thinking was not very inclusive. You [had] directors who were still trying to tell you how to be Black.”

She added,

“I was fired from a pilot because the producer told me I was ‘not Black enough.’ Those were his words. It was horrible. I can still remember the way I felt.”

Harry took to Twitter to congratulate one of the “nicest” women in Hollywood and give fans an insider about who “originally” was in talks to play the infamous Sandra Clark,

“The network originally wanted @thesherylralph to play Sandra on 227, but I got the part and won an Emmy for it. Now, Sheryl joins me as the 2nd black woman in this category, and deservedly so! I’m so excited for her #Emmys win!”
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Emil Flemmon

Èmil Flemmon is the Managing Editor for the 360 Baseline Movement. The Atlanta-based editor, red carpet interviewer, writer, and photographer, has had a career spanning over a decade in the editorial industry. His work has been featured in Kontrol Magazine, The Atlanta Voice, Blavity, Aspire TV, REVOLT, The Jasmine Brand, and Where Y'at Magazine in New Orleans. His mission is to help journalists and publicists have better connectivity and relationships exclusively through the movement.

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