emmys 2022

Sheryl Lee Ralph Gave the Best Acceptance Speech of All Time

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

We can all go home now, because the Emmys made me cry. Well, specifically Sheryl Lee Ralph, who won her first Emmy tonight for her role as Barbara Howard in Abbott Elementary. The legendary actress and singer was so emotional upon hearing her name for the award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category that she had to be helped up and escorted to the stage. Thank God she made it up there, because she proceeded to deliver an acceptance speech — an acceptance song, more accurately — that we will watch for years to come.

Approaching the microphone in tears, Ralph suddenly broke out into song, belting out a few lines of Dianne Reeves’s “Endangered Species” and reminding us all that she should have won a Tony several decades ago:

Then she delivered a moving speech with the flair and enunciation of the Broadway icon that she is:

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. 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 left the stage fist-pumping with her Emmy in hand.

Ralph is the second-ever Black woman to win this award, following Jackée Harry, who won for her role in the NBC sitcom 227 in 1987 and tweeted her congratulations. And it doesn’t hurt that Ralph did it with gems in her hair.

Sheryl Lee Ralph Gave the Best Acceptance Speech of All Time