When she took to the stage to receive the 2023 Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series on Sunday evening – given to her for her pitch-perfect performance on ABC comedy show “Abbott Elementary” – she delivered a show-stopping address.
“To all of you watching, come close to the screen and listen,” Ralph said as she was wrapping up her remarks. “People don’t have to like you, people don’t have to love you, people don’t even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see!”
The moment went instantly viral – as of Monday morning, Ralph’s name was still a trending topic on Twitter as fans shared her wise words en masse. “Sheryl Lee Ralph did more for me in 30 seconds than my therapist in 10 years,” wrote one Twitter user. Added another, “Sheryl Lee Ralph is really the greatest motivational speaker of our time.”
Ralph, who has been in the acting game for decades, also took time to thank those who encouraged her along the way – from famed actor Sidney Poitier, who buoyed her through rejection by affirming her talent early on, to “Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson, who “would look at me and say, ‘Ms. Ralph, I’m not sleeping on your talent.’”
Ralph has been piling up nominations and awards this season for her work as teacher Barbara Howard in the second season of the hit mockumentary series. She also garnered praise – and statues – for her work on the show’s first season.
And she made headlines for her speeches then, too. At the 2022 Emmy Awards, Ralph won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy – and began her speech by singing Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species.”
“I am a woman. I am an artist,” she crooned at that ceremony. “And I know where my voice belongs.”