“Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph’s acceptance speech during Monday’s 74th Primetime Emmy Awards was one of the 2022 ceremony’s highlights. And her co-star Tyler James Williams was honored to be a small part of her long-overdue celebration.
The 29-year-old actor, who plays sidelined principal-turned-substitute teacher Gregory Eddie in the Emmy-nominated ABC comedy, escorted the supporting actress winner to the stage after she was overcome with emotion upon hearing her name.
Ralph, 65, had appeared to freeze in her seat until her co-stars and husband, Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, prompted her to take the stage. She then gave the night’s most memorable speech: a song-turned-dedication that showcased the performer’s Broadway pedigree.
“No matter how old or grown we get NEVER forget those who paved the road that you have the privilege of walking on today,” Williams wrote Tuesday on Instagram, sharing a photograph of him escorting Ralph to the stage.
“And if the time comes and you so happen to have the honor, walk them down that same road to their flowers. This moment is one of the greatest honors of my career and I will forever shed a tear every time I come across it. All love for Queen Mother @thesherylleeralph #emmys2022.”
Williams, of “Dear White People” and “Everybody Hates Chris” fame, was also nominated as a supporting actor in a comedy and was the first at the “Abbott” table to stand up to celebrate Ralph’s win.
Emmy-winning writer and “Abbott” creator Quinta Brunson and co-star Janelle James (nominated in the same category as Ralph) also helped Ralph along. Attendees inside the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles gave the veteran star a standing ovation too.
Onstage, Ralph expertly composed herself to make her statement by belting out lyrics from Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species” and dedicating her win to dreamers.
Backstage, she told reporters that she had been singing Reeves’ song for years: “I’m a woman. I’m an artist, and I know where my voice belongs. There are so many young actors, artists, even kids that think they know what they’re going to do in life,” she said. “Find your voice and put it where it belongs.”
Williams told Variety that his visceral reaction to Ralph’s win was “a guttural yell that came from my soul.” And for his part, the former child actor got some flowers on social media too for his show of reverence and chivalry.
Williams’ “Dear White People” co-star Ashley Blaine slipped into his comments section with a half-dozen heart-eyed emojis, and actor-writer Lena Waithe wrote “All hail the queen.” And Brunson commented with a simple “Mother.”
“MY FAVORITE MOMENT!!!!!” added “Modern Family” alum Sarah Hyland.
“Incredible words Tyler! Congrats to you as well. This is the first of many nominations for you as well,” wrote Oscar-winning “Hair Love” filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry.
“so much love for the both of you,” added the official Hulu account.
“This for real was the moment of the night. Too special,” commented actor-singer Jadagrace.