On March 10, the iconic Sheryl Lee Ralph was an honoree at the 2023 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood ceremony. Co-star and creator of Abbott Elementary Quinta Brunson presented Ralph with her award, and gave a stirring speech about the things she learned from the tenured actress.
Brunson began her speech with how Ralph was cast in ABC’s hit comedy. The role of Barbara Howard was the “pinnacle” character for the show, and it would take a special person to fill that space. “It was the hardest character to cast in the show,” Brunson said. “We needed someone who embodied grace, who embodied strength; someone familiar, yet brand new.”
Before officially casting the Dreamgirls star, Brunson explained how inspired she was the after all her years in the business, Ralph was still precocious, and eager to adapt to new things and information. “I thought about the beauty of deciding to learn again,” she said.
“No matter what age we are, no matter how long we’ve been in this business,” Brunson continued. “Sheryl taught me to never forget the importance of deciding to learn again. I just think that’s so important for everybody in this industry.”