After decades spent climbing what she describes as a “very high mountain,” Sheryl Lee Ralph is finally living the dream—one that started all the way back in 1981 with her Tony-nominated role as Deena Jones in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls.
In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Ralph remembers thinking: “How can I be in this industry so long and I never get an invitation to the Emmys?” Now, not only has she received the statue itself (making her only the second Black woman recognized as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy), but also the accolades of the on-screen Dreamgirls she inspired: Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé.
In a recent appearance on The Jennifer Hudson Show, Ralph—always the teacher—gave her mentee a brief lesson on how a stage girl gets it done, fabulous pink feather boas and all. “I’m so proud of you,” she says, pulling Hudson into a tight hug, to which Hudson responds: “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just got to have that moment with you. That was the dream.”
Beyoncé—who played Deena in the movie—also joined in the love-fest. In an Instagram post, Ralph revealed that Queen Bey had sent her a bouquet of flowers to commemorate her historic win, leaving the actor quite literally speechless. “To the original Dreamgirl, Sending you a beautiful congratulations. All my love, Beyoncé,” read the note attached to the bouquet. “Thank you @beyonce don’t forget to dream girls!” Ralph responded in her caption.
Still, while receiving Beyoncé’s approval would be a life-defining moment for any of us, nothing can top Ralph’s own reaction to her historic win. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and watch the actor’s show-stopping acceptance speech:
Ralph stars as Barbara Howard in Abbott Elementary. Season 2 premieres September 21 on ABC.