Five Questions with Sheryl Lee Ralph
Noted actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph is definitely in another winning season. Last year she made history as the second black woman since 1987 to win the Emmy in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. The award was given for her performance in the hit television show, Abbott Elementary. During what was arguably one of the best acceptance speeches in the history of the award show, she reminded everyone to go after their goals as well as to understand that whatever is meant to be yours will not miss you. Of course she took her Jamaican flag, flying high, as she delivered sections of her speech in Jamaican Patois. Ralph has never shied away from her Jamaican roots.
Born to Jamaican fashion designer Ivy Ralph and Stanley Ralph, an American college professor, the performer was raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island, New York. A cultural ambassador for Jamaica, Ralph was invested into the Order of Jamaica in 2022 for her sterling contribution to the international film industry.
Starting this year off on a high note, she won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Abbott Elementary at the 28th annual Critics Choice Award, held at The Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles on January 15. She again gave a moving speech, looking into the crowd and urging them to give themselves all the love and grace needed. In just a few days, she is expected to attend the NAACP Image Awards, where she received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Abbott Elementary, which has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. But before that ceremony on February 27, the Abbott Elementary star is expected to showcase her vocals as she delivers a performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is often referred to as the black national anthem, at the Super Bowl pre-game show. Certainly with a lot more in store for 2023, the loved entertainer speaks with The Gleaner for this week’s Five Questions.
1) You recently posted that you will be performing during the Super Bowl LVII pregame show. What are you most looking forward to about this performance?
As you can imagine, I’m very excited about the Super Bowl! Singing is dear to me, which is why it was the first thing I could think of doing when I won the Emmy. It’s been a major part of my life, and so naturally, when they honoured me with the ask to sing for the pregame before Rihanna, I immediately said yes! Imagine singing to an audience of almost two hundred million people around the world!
2) You have received an NAACP Image Awards nod for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for ‘Abbott Elementary’, which has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. How are you feeling about both nominations?
I’m excited about the NAACP nominations. It’s always an honour to have my work appreciated. I already know my Jamaica will be watching and cheering me on no matter what.
3) How are you feeling having recently been awarded the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series?
When I won the Critics Choice Award, I thought to myself that it was the perfect time to get a message of inspiration out there as people struggle to get back to normal, and I think it’s something that every Jamaican needs to understand as well.
4) How does the love and support from Jamaica affect your drive and motivation to continue pushing on in your journey?
I’m over the moon, of course! I love that my island Jamaica continues to give me support with every stride I take. The Diva tribe is strong in Jamaica, and I appreciate that we’ve come this far together!
5) What words of encouragement do you have for Jamaicans who are on their own journeys?
Forget about who doesn’t love you. Forget about who won’t support you. Work on making sure that you love and respect the person you see in the mirror, and keep making decisions that are best for them. If you keep that focus you won’t believe how far you will be able to take yourself.