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The Inspiring Way Sheryl Lee Ralph Used This New Emmys Procedure

Must-watch sitcom "Abbott Elementary" has swept multiple nominations following its debut season, and no nominee from that show has been more deserving than Sheryl Lee Ralph. An experienced actor in more ways than one, Ralph was legendary on Broadway as an original Dreamgirl — and that was just the beginning. Her Emmy win for her portrayal of kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard makes her the first Black woman to win best supporting actress in a comedy series in 35 years. This was an honor that previously went to Jackée Harry, who congratulated her fellow winner on Twitter.

"@thesherylralph's had a remarkable career AND she's one of the nicest people in Hollywood. Barbara Howard on #AbbottElementary is another fabulous character we've been fortunate to watch her breathe life into," wrote Harry, who, in 1987, won an Emmy for her role as Sandra Clark on "227."

Ralph's win was a genuine surprise to the actor, who was visibly stunned after the announcement. Her moving speech was one about believing in yourself in the face of great odds. And thanks to a new procedure implemented at this year's Emmys, Ralph was able to thank a large number of people and inspire audiences all at the same time.

Ralph submitted her thank yous in advance, allowing her to start her speech with a song

Speeches at the Emmys have just been made easier. The award show has debuted a new feature, which now displays thank yous from winners across the bottom of the screen in text. Those nominated formulate their thoughts ahead of time and submit them to the Emmys so that if they win, everyone they need to thank is named on screen. Some actors used the platform for different uses, such as "Hacks" star Hannah Einbinder who submitted a link for abortion pill access. Sheryl Lee Ralph was one actor who wasn't sure if she would remember everyone important to the cast and crew of "Abbott Elementary" if she ended up winning an award.

"I just wanted to make sure that I thanked everybody at ABC, thanked everybody at Warner Bros. and thanked everybody [a]t Disney," Ralph told The Hollywood Reporter in a poll among the nominees. "It's so easy to forget the people who literally support this show that are not seen." 

Across the board, nominees applauded the idea of being able to thank people ahead of time instead of struggling to remember every name at the moment. And not only was it organized, but it also allowed Ralph to start her speech with the impressive bars to Dianne Reeves' "Endangered Species," a song that starts with the lyrics "I am an endangered species/But I sing no victim's song/I am a woman, I am an artist/And I know where my voice belongs." 

By singing those uplifting lines, Ralph made her speech one of the standouts of the night.