Sheryl Lee Ralph Sings and Sheds Tears in Powerful Speech for First Emmy Win for 'Abbott Elementary'

The actress took home the trophy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is now an Emmy winner! The comedian won in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category, beating out her Abbott Elementary co-star, Janelle James, as well as Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Hannah Einbinder (Hacks), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), and Ted Lasso's Sarah NilesJuno Temple and Hannah Waddingham.

Ralph serenaded the crowd while accepting her award -- her first Primetime Emmy Award in a career spanning over five decades -- onstage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles 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.

"To anyone that has ever, ever had a dream and though your dream, wasn't, wouldn't, couldn't, come true, I am here to tell you that is what believing looks like," Ralph said, beginning her impassioned acceptance speech. "This is what striving looks like."

She continued, "And don't you ever, ever give up on you, because if you get a Quinta Brunson in your corner, if you get a husband like mine in your corner, if you get children like mine in your corner, and if you've got friends like everybody who voted for me, cheered for me, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Ralph held up her Emmy in victory to the applause and screams from the crowd, who gave the actress a standing ovation.

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Following her epic win, Ralph spoke to reporters backstage, where she explained why she sang Reeves' 1993 track, and what the monumental moment meant to her.

"I've been singing that song for years, because I think of myself as an artist, as a woman -- especially as a woman of color, I'm an endangered species, but I don't sing any victim song, I'm a woman, I'm an artist," Ralph explained.

"And I know where my voice belongs," she added. "There's so many young actors, artists, even kids that think they know what they're going to do in life -- find your voice. And put it where it belongs."

As for the win, Ralph said it brought her back to being a little girl with dreams of going to Hollywood.

"I'm the little five-year-old girl that watched TV on Sunday night when Tinkerbell came up and went around the steeple, putting stars around everywhere, and I remember saying, 'I'm going to Hollywood, I'm going to be an actress and I'm going to drive a Mustang," Ralph recalled.

She continued, "I'm going there and the fact that I am here, recognized after all this time as being one of the best of the best in my industry, with a group of women that are all the best, and to top it off, this particular year, tons of great TV, and for my little freshman show to breakthrough and to be seen the way it is? Oh, my God! I've got the golden ticket, yes I do. Where's my chocolate? I'm ready."

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Created by and starring Quinta Brunson, the critically acclaimed ABC series following a group of dedicated and passionate teachers -- and a slightly tone-deaf principal -- at a Philadelphia public school came out the gates with aces across the board for the Primetime Emmys, earning nods in the top categories, including Outstanding Comedy Series. 

ABC announced that the smash series had officially been renewed for a second season in March, ahead of the show's midseason premiere, and fans can tune in when the new season drops on Sept. 21. 

"You know, just like doing Abbott, when I was doing Dreamgirls, I knew we were doing something very special. I knew in my heart," Ralph previously told ET about her role as Barbara Howard on the comedy series. "I grew up around all of these Barbara Howards and, for me, [this] was to just give them life, give them a voice. I didn't think it was going to be anything that anybody was going to pay this kind of attention to. But I'm thankful."

When it comes to her career-first nomination, the Dreamgirls actress asked, "Ain't God good? Isn't it wonderful to have people talking about you that way, you know, isn't it wonderful that people see your work?"

"I got a call from LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson, and it was simple, 'We see you, girl. We see you, Mrs. Howard.' And it was so wonderful! I'm thankful and it means a lot, but I have to tell you, I'm shocked by it," she added.

Ralph also noted that she wasn't surprised by the love for the series, saying that "there's something about the truths we tell every week" that keeps viewers' attention. 

"There's something about a show that raises the platform for educators, the administrators and all the people that help make our education work," she added, pointing out how Abbott Elementary doesn't make teachers the butt of the joke but highlights how they are the heart and soul of the show. 

"We get to talk about things that need attention. Why should teachers have to be raising money to get supplies in their classrooms? Why is it that there are school districts where the books are 10 years old and teachers are having to play catch up? That shouldn't be happening in America. We should be doing more for the 'greatest country's' wonderful children," she said.

"We get to tell some of those truths with Abbott Elementary in a way that is smart, that is funny and is needed right now," she added.  

The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards hosted by Kenan Thompson were broadcast live on NBC and Peacock. In the meantime, check out the full winners list and stay tuned to for complete Emmys coverage.