Sheryl Lee Ralph Shares the Encouraging Words Late Sidney Poitier Once Told Her in Critics Choice Speech

Sheryl Lee Ralph could not be more grateful for her career — and those who believed in her from the start. On Sunday, the actress took home the award

for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role in Abbott Elementary at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards. After making her way to the stage, Ralph, 66, shared a

heartfelt speech, in which she credited the late Sidney Poitier for believing in her talents early on in her career. "Ever mistake, every back break, every 'No', every

rejection in an industry that when I was 19 years old was quick to tell me there was no place for me," an emotional Ralph began. "Sidney Poitier looked at me and said, 'You're a

damn good actress.'" "That God could lead me to a moment when a young woman by the name of Quinta Brunson would look at me and say, 'Ms. Ralph, I'm not sleeping on your

talent,'" she continued, before praising her costars and crew on Abbott Elementary as "the best cast on TV." Ralph then concluded, "To all of you watching, come close to

the screen and listen. People don't have to like you, people don't have to love you, people don't even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what

you see!" RELATED: The Abbott Elementary Cast's Best Behind-the-Scenes Photos The big moment comes after Ralph made history at the 2022 Emmy Awards in September,

winning the outstanding supporting actress trophy for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard in the Quinta Brunson-led rockumentary. Ralph became just the second

Black woman to score an Emmy in the category after Jackée Harry, who won for 227 in 1987 — a milestone Ralph appeared to celebrate in her scene-stealing acceptance speech.