The 'Abbott Elementary' star chats with ET about her new back-to-school campaign and her son's recent engagement.
Sheryl Lee Ralph is a proud mama bear celebrating her son Etienne Maurice's recent engagement.
While chatting with ET's Rachel Smith about her new Share Some Good Fund back-to-school charity campaign in partnership with MadeGood and public education advocate Tamir Harper, Ralph gushed about Etienne's upcoming nuptials and what it means for her growing family.
"I'm so happy, I'm so inspired, I love it! The fact that Stephanie just fits and blends so well into our family, you know, that's all you can ask, that your children are happy in different stages of their life," the Emmy winner tells ET of Maurice's engagement to longtime girlfriend and journalist at ABC News, Stephanie Wash. "Now if I can see that happen for my daughter I will be ecstatic!"
Maurice and Wash announced their engagement last month, after two years of dating. The WalkGoodLA founder shared photos of the surprise proposal on social media, complete with family and friends, along with roses and candles atop a New York City rooftop.
While Ralph is admittedly excited about the wedding, she tells ET that she doesn't need to be involved in the planning. "They're just at the beginning of it, so, when they need help, they'll ask me, and I will be there to give it," she says.
The Jamaican-born star says that her deepest desire is for the wedding bash to be "good."
"I want the music to be good. I want it to be just wonderfully outstanding because these are the days that, as you go through your marriage, you have to look back on what is probably your happiest day together and remember that day," she explains. "When your partner gets on your last nerve and you need to be reminded, 'Why did I do this? Why did I get married? What was it again about this person?' But then, you think about your wedding and go, 'Oh, now I understand. Now I remember that.' And then you just shut your mouth, and you just let that go by."
And after the wedding, Ralph gleefully notes that she'll be a "Glamma" eventually.
"We called my grandmother Nana, they called my mother Grandi, and I said, 'Nuh-uh, Glamma,'" she shares. "Glam-mom, Glamma that works [too], they can say that. I'll be the G-mama, yes."
Until then, Ralph has more than enough to keep her hands full! While she may not be able to play Abbott Elementary's beloved Barbara Howard amid the SAG-AFTRA strike, she isn't letting that stop her dedication to real-life teachers.
The actress has partnered up with MadeGood, an organic, allergy-friendly, better-for-you snack brand, to launch the company's Share Some Good Fund campaign. The initiative is awarding $200,000 to 1,000 teachers in the United States to help them buy much-needed school supplies at the start of the school year. Each of the rewarded teachers will receive $200 to support school supply purchases at the start of the school year, from markers and pens to books and cleaning supplies, or whatever their class might require in order to thrive.
Ralph is working alongside Harper, a teacher who, at 16 years old, co-founded UrbEd Inc., a nonprofit that combines community organizing and policy to uplift students, educate communities, and develop coalitions to give students the education they deserve.
Harper is currently pursuing a Master's in Education as he teaches 8th grade students English and social studies in the school district of Philadelphia.
Recalling his first meeting with Ralph, Harper shares that he slid into the actress' DMs when he was still in high school. "We begged Mrs. Ralph to come in and be our keynote speaker at our high school graduation because we knew her brilliance and excellence way before it became so popular because we love her in Philly," he tells ET. "We needed her to be with us and celebrate with us because we understood that without her excellence, we wouldn't be able to do what we're doing."
Harper says that Ralph was one of his main inspirations for becoming a teacher, with Ralph gushing that Harper could easily go on to become superintendent if he wanted to.
"To me, Tamir is a perfect example of [not standing in your own way] and what he's been able to achieve since he graduated from high school [and] graduated from college, finding himself in the classroom, answering the call for more teachers, more Black teachers, it means so much, and I'm very, very proud of him and what he's been able to achieve and what he's still doing," Ralph proclaims.
The child of a teacher herself, Ralph more than understands the vital role teachers play in students' lives.
"You know, it just means so much what one human being can do, what one teacher can do, what one person can do to inspire other young minds; it can last a lifetime," she says. "My teachers have lasted me a whole lifetime."
It's for that reason that Ralph is determined to advocate and help teachers in any way she can with the Share Some Good Fund campaign.
Agreeing that teachers are unsung heroes that just don't get recognized, Ralph notes that "for the job that they do, they never get enough respect, they never make the money that they should be making for what they do."
"They have this incredible job of molding the minds of our futures, the minds of our children every day, and you don't want to pay these people? You don't want to support them better? For me, it is a shame and a crime that there are some teachers that can no longer be in the classroom because it takes too much money out of their own pocketbooks to support their classrooms," she tells ET. "And it's real. There are teachers that are in this country, making $24,000, $27,000, $30,000, that's it. And then, out of that money, they are expected to pay for the supplies that their students need. That, to me, is unacceptable."
She adds, "One of the great things was when MadeGood came to me and said, 'Let's partner on this idea [where] we're going to choose 1,000 teachers, and each one of them is going to get an extra $200 for their classroom.' That kind of thing makes a difference, doesn't it?"
"It allows you to fund a class library or, if you are a math teacher, to buy calculators, to sometimes even just to make sure you have extra sanitary products for your students that may need them," Harper says. "This goes a long way to really transform this space teachers have within their classrooms."
Folks can nominate teachers who have made a positive impact on their lives or their children's lives and who could benefit from some extra financial support through Sept. 24.