She remembered how Sidney Poitier made her believe in herself which took her to the heights of success as an actress.
The Critics Choice Awards 2023 was live on January 15, 2023. The award ceremony saw several big names of Hollywood at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Here, Sheryl Lee Ralph won best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role in Abbott Elementary. As she walked up to the stage, Ralph, 66, shared a heartfelt speech, in which she credited the late Sidney Poitier for believing in her talents early on in her career, reported PEOPLE.
Well here’s the part of Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Critics Choice speech you need to see. (The shout of “COME ON!” is from Brian Tyree Henry at the table next to me.) pic.twitter.com/HgcCPcz8nc— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) January 16, 2023
"Ever mistake every back break, every 'No', every rejection in an industry that when I was 19 years old was quick to tell me there was no place for me," an emotional Ralph began. "Sidney Poitier looked at me and said, 'You're a damn good actress.' That God could lead me to a moment when a young woman by the name of Quinta Brunson would look at me and say, 'Ms. Ralph, I'm not sleeping on your talent,'" she continued, before praising her costars and crew on Abbott Elementary as "the best cast on TV".
Ralph then concluded, "To all of you watching, come close to the screen and listen. People don't have to like you, people don't have to love you, and people don't even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see!" She also thanked the industry for accepting her and her crew for supporting her, "As a supporting actress, I'm supported well. By an incredible crew. By an incredible staff, incredible producers, who put in the work..each and every day."
However, this big win comes after Ralph made history at the Emmy Awards in September 2022, winning the outstanding supporting actress trophy for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard in the Quinta Brunson-led rockumentary. Ralph became the second Black woman ever to score an Emmy in the category after Jackée Harry, who won for 227 in 1987. This was a milestone Ralph appeared to celebrate in her powerful acceptance speech.
Ralph's win became the biggest highlight of the 2022 Emmy Awards ceremony as she delivered a moving speech that included singing a verse from jazz singer Diane Reeves' 1993 song Endangered Species. Her song earned a standing ovation from the crowd and then spoke, "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. And thank God I didn't give up on me because it's been a rough climb, but it's worth every step", reported PEOPLE.
"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!"
Cover Image Source: (L) Getty Images | Kevin Winter; (R) Getty Images | Brad Barket