Sheryl Lee Ralph OJ is no stranger to stardom. From winning our hearts as our favorite no-nonsense step-mom, Dee Mitchell, in Moesha, to slaying Broadway stages as the original Dreamgirl, Deena, and now as Abbott Elementary’s finest OG educator, Mrs. Barabara Howard. You can look in the dictionary next to “Been That Girl” and see a picture of Ralph. Although she’s had years of iconic roles, nominations and awards, her most recent Emmy win and speech has put her top-of-mind and at the top of our vision boards moving forward. In an effort to give The Honourable Sheryl Lee Ralph O.J. all the flowers she deserves, here is a list of our favorite moments from the OG Dreamgirl and aspiring EGOT winner.
Miss Black Teenage New York and Rutgers University’s First 19-Year Old Grad
Ralph had skin in the game early as at age of 19, she was crowned Miss Black Teenage New York and graduated from Rutgers University where she studied English Literature and Theater Arts. There, she became the first woman to graduate from college at her age.
Her Role as Dee Mitchell in Moesha
Whether you were Team Moe or Team Frank and Dee, Ralph’s role as the stern but loving step-mom in the popular 90s sitcom left an imprint on all us of. Although her character didn’t always see eye to eye with our homegirl, Moesha (Brandy Norwood), Dee’s motherly energy radiated through her role, where she also served as an educator. True to this, definitely not new to it!
Starring as Deena Jones in the Broadway Production of Dreamgirls
We found out just how old some of us really were after social media went into a frenzy following Ralph’s post of Beyoncé sending the ‘Original Dreamgirl’ a dazzling bouquet of white and yellow flowers following her Emmy win. But now that we’re all on the same page, let’s act accordingly! That’s the ORIGINAL Deena Jones you’re discussing.
Her Role as Barbara Howard in Abbot Elementary
Let’s admit, we couldn’t imagine a more perfect Mrs. Howard. Ralph does a phenomenal job pulling on nostalgia as veteran Kindergarten teacher in Abbot Elementary, reminding us all of that favorite grade-school teacher from our early education days.
Her Iconic 2022 Emmy Win and Speech
“To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like,”: The first words spoken after Ralph emotionally belted a snippet of Diana Reeves’ Endangered Species.
The 66-year old’s first Emmy win for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series was iconic that it became the first win for a black woman in 35 years, but her powerful acceptance speech was a testimony to showing up, and showing up prepared.
Being Awarded the Order of Jamaica
Wins across the board! Not long after her Emmy win, Ralph was honored for her contributions to film and television with the prestigious Honorary Order of Jamaica, the nation’s fourth-highest honor.
We virtually beamed alongside her as she captioned her picture, #ThisIsWhatBelievingLooksLike.
Her Diva Moment in the Fenty X Savage Fashion Show
A stark contrast from the reserved, modest Mrs. Howard in Abbott Elementary, Ralph gave us legs, hips and body in her sparkly, green catsuit and gold glam for the Fenty X Savage Fashion Show Vol. 4.
Her 2023 Critics Choice Award Win and Speech
2-0 in acceptance speeches, at this point we’re ready to give her all the awards just to hear the speech!
In another celebration of her performance with Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Ralph’s empowering Critic’s Choice Awards speech on self-love has since gone viral and become yet another mood board item for us to obsess over.