If you’re having trouble feeling motivated, look no further than Sheryl Lee Ralph and Niecy Nash-Betts. On Sunday, while receiving their well deserved recognition at the Critics Choice Awards, the two actresses gave acceptance speeches that I’m going to make my wake up alarm so that they’re the first thing I hear every morning.
While picking up yet another trophy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in Abbott Elementary, Ralph acknowledged the legend who inspired her to keep going during the early days of her career.
“Every mistake, every bad 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, but Sidney Poitier looked at me and said, ‘You’re a damn good actress,’” she said.
“God led me to a moment where 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 said. “To the best cast on TV, Lisa, Chris, Stan, Tyler, Quinta, thank you.”
Then the legend closed her moment with some sage, always relevant advice for everyone: “To all of you watching here, come close to the screen and listen. People don’t have to like you. People don’t have to love you. They don’t even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see.”
Ralph was not the only one preaching from that stage, as awards season favorite Niecy Nash-Betts let all the haters know she hadn’t forgotten them while accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television for her emotionally charged performance as Glenda Cleveland in Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
“When I decided to become an actor,I saw myself doing drama,” she said. “They said, stay in your comedy lane. Some people want to leave you where they meet you. I did what I knew to do: I cried and I told my mother. I said, ‘Don’t you think I’m a good dramatic actress?’ She said, ‘Girl, I don’t, but you can be. You find the best class in this town, and I will work overtime to pay for it.’ Thank you, mama. All you need is one.”
She also thanked co-star Evan Peters, producer Ryan Murphy and Netflix. Before recognizing Cleveland, she thanked her wife Jessica for her support during the difficult production.
“You picked me up when I was gutted from this work,” Nash-Betts said. “I share this award with Glenda Cleveland. On this night, we are both fully seen. And finally, to everybody who doubted this Black woman and told me what I couldn’t do…in your face!”
Though they’re offering different kinds of inspiration, these two amazing Black women are empowering the rest of us to not give up on our big dreams and also hold out for the day when we can shove our success in all the haters’ faces.