Sheryl Lee Ralph on Jimmy Kimmel joke during Quinta Brunson win



Sheryl Lee Ralph captivated viewers during Monday’s Emmys when she won her first supporting actress award in a comedy for her work on Abbott Elementary School, after decades in show business. She became only the second black woman to win in that category, and delivered a rousing speech in the form of… a song!

Ralph felt less jubilant as she watched Quinta Brunsonthe creator and star of Abbott Elementary Schoolaccept the award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Weries – the 2. Black woman to win in this category. Only it had nothing to do with Brunson; Her feelings were about Jimmy Kimmelwhen the late-night host lay onstage near the podium while Brunson gave her speech, as part of a little thing that didn’t go down too well.

“I was absolutely confused,” Ralph said Wednesday during a virtual panel of the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour reports. “I didn’t know what was going on. I thought, ‘I wish this man would just get off the floor.’ And then I realized it was Jimmy Kimmel, and I was like, ‘Oh, the disrespect, Jimmy!’ But that’s just me.”

Ralph laughed and added sarcastically, “Sorry! I’m so sorry, it was nice to have him on the floor during her wonderful acceptance speech!”

Ralph didn’t keep her feelings to himself.

“I told him too! she said the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Host. “And he understood.”

Sheryl Lee Ralph and Quinta Brunson with the others
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Quinta Brunson with the rest of the Abbott Elementary cast. (Photo: ABC/Pamela Littky)

At the same event, Brunson himself again addressed what happened. (She had said in the press room after the show that the incident didn’t bother her much, noting that it was Kimmel who gave her her first late-night spot. She said she’s scheduled to guest on his show on Wednesday: “Tomorrow I might be mad at him.”)

“I expect we’re going to have a good old-fashioned time,” Brunson said of her performance. “I’ve spoken to Jimmy since, and I think no matter what happens, it’s important to just show that Abbott Elementary School premieres next week. It’s going to be a good time and you’ll probably just have to tune in and watch.”

While Brunson forgave, the internet Ralph agreed that the gag was a mistake.

Kimmel’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the comedian joked to entertainment tonight at an Emmys afterparty about what was going on with him at the moment: “I had my eyes closed, I had no idea where I was,” he said. “It was one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me.”

He also seriously gushed about Brunson.

“She’s so incredibly talented. And I saw her pilot before it came out on ABC, and I texted her and said, ‘I don’t know how we got this, but congratulations. You’ve done a pilot who’s ever network would be thrilled to get it,'” Kimmel said. “She’s a lovely person too.”

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