Sheryl Lee Ralph captivated viewers at Monday’s Emmys when she won her first trophy for supporting a comedy actress for her work on Abbott Elementary, after decades in show business. Only the second black woman to win in the category did she deliver a rousing speech in the form of… a song!
Ralph felt less excited when she looked at Quinta Brunson, the creator and star of Abbott Elementary, accept the honor for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Weries — the second black woman to win in that category. Except it had nothing to do with Brunson; her feelings were about Jimmy Kimmel, when the late night host lay on the stage by the podium while Brunson gave her speech, as part of a piece that didn’t come across as well.
“I was absolutely confused,” Ralph said Wednesday during a virtual panel of the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, according to reports. “I didn’t know what was going on. I was like, ‘I wish that guy would just get off the ground.’ And then I realized it was Jimmy Kimmel, and I thought, ‘Ooh, the disrespect, Jimmy!’ But that’s just me.”
Ralph laughed and added sarcastically, “Sorry! I’m so sorry, it was lovely to have him on the floor during her beautiful thank you!”
Ralph didn’t keep her feelings to herself.
‘I told him too! In his face!’ she said about the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host. “And he understood.”
At the same event, Brunson himself spoke again about what had 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 overnight spot. She said she was scheduled to be a guest on his show Wednesday: “Tomorrow I’ll be there.” maybe mad at him.”)
“I expect we’re going to have a good old-fashioned time,” Brunson said of her appearance. “I’ve been talking to Jimmy ever since, and I think it’s important to just show that anyway Abbott Elementary will premiere next week. It’s going to be a fun time and you’ll probably just have to tune in and watch.”
While Brunson was forgiving, the internet agreed with Ralph that the joke was a miss.
Kimmel’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the comedian was joking about Entertainment tonight at an Emmy’s after party what was going on with him at the time: “I had my eyes closed, I had no idea where I was,” he said. “It was one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me.”
He was also seriously delighted with Brunson.
“She’s so incredibly talented. And I saw her pilot before it came out on TBEN, and I wrote to her, and I was like, ‘I don’t know how we got this, but congratulations. would be ecstatic to get,” Kimmel said. “She’s also a sweet person.”