Sheryl Lee Ralph 'Had No Idea How Much' Her Emmys Speech Would Mean (Exclusive)

ET spoke with the Emmy winner on the red carpet at this year's Golden Globes.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is forever grateful for the wave of love she's received since she's been playing the charming Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary

ET spoke with the 66-year-old on the red carpet at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards, where Ralph dazzled in a purple custom Aliétte NY gown designed by Jason Rembert.

"I feel wonderful, I feel great. It's a state of grace, it's a state of gratitude," Ralph tells ET's Nischelle Turner and Kevin Frazier. "I am so thankful to be here. I am so thankful to have my name called as one of the best now, in the world."

Ralph and fellow Golden Globe nominee Niecy Nash were honored on Sunday during a star-studded luncheon organized by William P. Miller ahead of the awards ceremony. Ralph and Nash were lauded by friends, family, and well-wishers for their years-long, acclaimed careers, and their nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Musical and Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series, respectively.

"I don't know if that kind of love and appreciation ever sets in on you," Ralph shares about the luncheon. "I thought that I had good social currency. I just had no idea how deep and valuable it was. And I just remain so thankful. Because people don't have to see you. They don't have to like you, they don't have to respect you, they certainly don't have to come out and say how much they love you and mean it. It's amazing."

It's all well-deserved after Ralph stunned fans and audience members alike with a show-stopping speech for her momentous Emmy win, in which she became the second Black actress to win the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her beloved role on Abbott Elementary. 

Ralph serenaded the crowd while accepting her award -- her first Primetime Emmy Award in a career spanning over five decades -- during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards. Singing Dianne Reeves' "Endangered Species," Ralph delivered a statement with her song before motivating the audience with a beautiful speech filled with hope and gratitude.

"I had no idea how many people needed to be encouraged," Ralph tells ET of her iconic Emmys acceptance speech. "I had no idea how many people needed to be empowered. I had no idea just telling people that they must never, ever give up on themselves. I had no idea how much it would mean. I still to this day get calls and messages from people around the world."

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"And I thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for opening up their hearts and minds to understand that diversity really matters, and it really works. [This is their chance to] get it right," Ralph says, referring to the Golden Globe Awards officially returning to NBC this year after last year's cancellation following repeated controversy over the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's nominations process and lack of diversity in its membership. The 2022 Golden Globes were not televised after being canceled by NBC, and were held without an audience or red carpet.

In a press release announcing the Golden Globes return this year, Frances Berwick, Chairman, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, noted the HFPA's ongoing efforts to increase diversity in their voting membership. His statement read in part, "This diverse voting body is now represented by 62 different countries around the world. Combined with the current HFPA membership, the total Golden Globe Awards voting body is now 52% female, 51.5% racially and ethnically diverse, with 19.5% Latinx, 12% Asian, 10% Black and 10% Middle Eastern."

The 2023 Golden Globes airs live on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC and Peacock. Stay tuned to for complete Golden Globes coverage, including this year's winners