Ralph, who plays veteran schoolteacher Barbara Howard on “Abbott Elementary,” won the Emmy on Monday night for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and Williams walked a visibly stunned Ralph to the stage to accept her award.
To those who are unfamiliar with Ralph’s long career, Williams’ gesture may just seem like a sweet thing to do for a respected colleague.
But, as Williams explained in his post, walking Ralph to the Emmys stage meant much more to him than tipping his hat to his co-star. In fact, he called the experience “one of the greatest honors of my career.”
“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 began his post. “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.”
Ralph has had quite a remarkable — albeit overlooked — career. She was one of the original “Dreamgirls” on Broadway in 1981 and has a TV career going back to the 1970s with roles in hits like “Wonder Woman,” “The Jeffersons,” “Designing Women,” “Moesha” and “Claws.” She has been nominated for multiple NAACP Image and Black Reel awards. In 1991, she received a Film Independent Spirit Award for her role in “To Sleep With Anger.”
For many, Ralph’s Emmy win on Monday felt long overdue.
Ralph mentioned on the red carpet how difficult it has been for her to gain wider recognition. While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she shared a story about once working with the legendary actor Robert De Niro.
“In between shots, he looked at me and he said, ‘You are great … but Hollywood’s not looking for you. They are not looking for the Black girls. So you better wave that red flag and let them know you’re here because you deserve to be seen.’”
“Thirty years later, I am seen with my Emmy nomination!” Ralph said proudly. “And thank God I didn’t give up on me, because it’s been a rough climb, but it’s worth every step.”