Sheryl Lee Ralph Becomes First Black Woman to Win Supporting Actress in Comedy Series in 35 Years

Ralph is only the second Black woman in Emmy history to win the category, after Jackée Harry’s win for “227” in 1987

Sheryl Lee Ralph has proved that the Television Academy is hot for teacher and making history in the process, with a win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of straight-laced, veteran kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on ABC’s hit series “Abbott Elementary.”

Ralph is only the second Black woman in history to take home the top prize in the category, some 35 years since Jackée Harry was first victorious for her performance as Sandra Clark in the second season of “227.”

“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 this is what believing looks like,” Ralph said during her acceptance speech. After, of course, she finished a jaw-dropping a capella rendition of Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species.”

“This is what striving looks like and don’t you ever, ever give up on you,” Ralph continued. “Because if you’ve got a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you’ve got a husband like mine in your corner, if you’ve got children in your corner like mine, and if you’ve got friends like everyone who voted for me and cheered for me in your corner, thank you, thank you.”

For her part, Harry was well aware of what Ralph’s win meant historically, tweeting, “Winning my Emmy was a career highlight, but it was also a lonely experience. For 35 years I’ve been the only black woman to win Outstanding Supporting Actresses in a Comedy Series. But that all changes tonight… and it’s come full circle!”

“Abbott Elementary” returns for a second season on September 21, 2022 on ABC with a 22-episode order, an expansion from Season 1 which featured only 13 episodes.