Sheryl Lee Ralph Was ‘Shocked’ by Fan Reaction to ‘Abbott Elementary’ Role

Sheryl Lee Ralph on Uncensored (Credit: TV One)

Sheryl Lee Ralph sits down for a candid conversation on Sunday’s episode of the TV One interview series,  Uncensored.

The actress and singer discusses her decades-long career, overcoming an eating disorder when she was just starting out, and her Emmy-winning role on Abbott Elementary.

Ralph says she initially hoped to play the school principal on the ABC sitcom. Instead, series creator Quinta Brunson wanted her to take on the part of veteran teacher Barbara Howard.

Ralph, who was one of the original Dreamgirls, never expected fans to embrace her character because she didn’t consider it as prominent as the principal.

“I don’t see it as a breakout [role],” she says in a preview clip. “So I am shocked when the show starts to air and people are declaring their love for Barbara Howard.”

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Since the series launched in 2021, it’s picked up numerous awards, including three Primetime Emmys.

Among those wins was a supporting actress Emmy last year for Ralph. The actress tells Uncensored she never thought she would win.

“I’m there to be supportive of my cast, of my show. Do I have a speech? No, there’s no need for one,” she explains.

But she did win, and broke into song on stage.

Celebrity interview series Uncensored is produced for TV One by Eric Tomosunas, Keith Neal, James Seppelfrick, Jay Allen, Nikki Byles, and Rachel Valley for Swirl Films.

The episode of Uncensored with Sheryl Lee Ralph premieres Sunday, April 16 at 10/9C on TV One.