It may have been a long time coming for Emmy-winning actress and Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph to be officially given the recognition, awards, and flowers she so rightly deserves (and I mean that both figuratively and literally), but it’s a journey she can undoubtedly be grateful for knowing that her time was coming and that things ultimately worked out the way they were supposed to in the end.
However, if she could turn back the hands of time and give her elementary school self a piece of advice, it would be to pay attention, listen to her parents more, hold hands and to be kind. Ralph shared this anecdote alongside her Abbott costar, Lisa Ann Walter, during an interview with The Root ahead of the show’s Season Two premiere this Wednesday.
“Pay attention! Pay attention because these are some of the biggest, most difficult, most hard-earned lessons you will ever have to learn. If you can master these, you will be very good,” Ralph explained to The Root. “Listen to your parents. Believe it or not, they were actually young at some point and they might have something to share with you. Hold hands. Holding hands, having the support of others is going to be far more important to you than you can imagine right now. Be kind to others, no matter how unkind they may be to you. Because if you match their unkindness with their unkindness, all it ends up being is unkind. But that’s just a little bit of what I learned in elementary school and I’ll tell you. Every now and then I have to go back to those lessons and remind myself, ‘Remember what you learned in grade school. It will serve you well.’ And it really has.”
Added Walter, “Mine are...keep talking out because being the class clown wound up paying good girl. You were right [all] along to be making everybody laugh. You shouldn’t have been hard on yourself for that, you should’ve stuck with the teachers that recognized when you were busy being funny and talking during class it was because you were bored. And you already knew all this stuff. I think sometimes kids are hard on themselves because the person that they are truly, who they are in their soul, is sometimes squashed down to fit. Not that teachers are bad, they’re not. I think that sometimes the teachers who are individualizing and figuring out what the kids need and celebrating who they are—that gives the kid the ability to see that part of themselves as worthy.”
The season two premiere of Abbott Elementary goes down Wednesday, Sep. 21 at 9p.m.ET only on ABC and streaming the next day on Hulu.