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Sheryl Lee Ralph Recounts In Emotional Acceptance Speech How Actor Sidney Poitier Believed In Her as an Actress Before Hollywood Did

Sheryl Lee Ralph is stacking up awards like ice cream scoops! The beloved actress took home yet another award for her amazing portrayal of Barbara Howard in the ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary.”

On Sunday, Jan. 15, Ralph attended the 2023 Critics Choice Award where she won best supporting actress in a comedy series. While accepting her speech in a skin-tight gold foil dress, the 66-year-old discussed facing rejection at the beginning of her career, and recognized a certain Golden Globe winner who believed in her very early on.

“Every mistake. Every bad break. Every no. Every rejection…in an industry that, when I was 19 years old, was quick to tell me there was no place for me. But Sidney Poitier looked at me and said, ‘You’re a d––– good actress.’ ”

Poitier is a groundbreaking actor who broke color barriers as one of the first Black movie stars in Hollywood. He died on Jan. 6, 2022, at 94.

Sheryl Lee Ralph won a Critics Choice Award for her role in ABC’s “Abbott Elementary.” (Photo: @therealsheryleeralph/Instagram.)

Ralph went on to thank Quinta Brunson, who created “Abbott Elementary,” and, of course, her castmates, Lisa Ann Walter, Tyler James Williams and others, for always supporting her and acknowledging her talent.

“That God could lead me to a moment when a young woman by the name of Quinta Brunson would look at me and say, ‘Ms. Ralph, I’m not sleeping on your talent,’ ” she said, before adding, “To the best cast on TV.”

The “Moesha” alum concluded her speech by advising those watching to always believe in themselves, saying that self-love will always be the best form of love despite the opinions of others. 

“To all of you watching here, come close to the screen and listen,” she began. “People don’t have to like you. People don’t have to love you. They don’t even have to respect you. But when you look into the mirror, you better love what you see. You better love what you see.” 

Ralph has been receiving her well-deserved recognition since 2022. After over 50 years in the industry, the original “Dreamgirls” star received her first Emmy Award for her role as Mrs. Howard in September 2022. The following month in October, she was awarded the “Order of Jamaica” honor, the nation’s fifth-highest honor, for outstanding distinction.

The “Order of Jamaica,” or “OJ” for short, is only awarded to citizens of Jamaica, and Ralph is one of 10 recipients to receive this distinguished award. 

Though Hollywood may just now be acknowledging the hard-working actress’ talent, many celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jackée Harry and Poitier could see her gift as an actor before all of her accolades. 

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