Emmys 2022: ‘Abbott Elementary’ star Sheryl Lee Ralph brings down the house

At the midway point during the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, there wasn’t yet a breakaway winner. With wins for a range of series, the show has been light, lively and fun.

“Saturday Night Live” cast member and Emmy nominee Bowen Yang stepped on stage to tell host Keenan Thompson that he’d be acting as the backup host.

“Did you see the Oscars,” Yang said with a laugh, referencing the slap heard around the world at the Oscars last year. The pair high-fived, but that was the most slapping that occurred on stage.

The biggest moment so far was actress Sheryl Lee Ralph winning supporting actress in a comedy series for her role on “Abbott Elementary.” Appearing overwhelmed by the recognition, Ralph took a deep breath once she got on stage and belted out the lyrics to Dianne Reeves’ “Endangered Species.” The powerful moment earned her a standing ovation from her peers. Ralph said, “To anyone who has ever had a dream, and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like!”

“Succession” won its first award of the night as Matthew Macfadyen took home outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role on the highly-nominated HBO show. “It really is such a pleasure and privilege to play this bonkers gift of a role in this wonderful show,” he said before the music played him off.

Actress Julia Garner won supporting actress in a drama series for her role on the Netflix series “Ozark,” which came to an end this year. “Thank you for writing Ruth, she changed my life,” she said, noting that this would be her final time to play the role as she went on to thank her co-stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney. “I just feel really grateful to be here … and I love you all.”

Lizzo presents the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark Terrill)

Singer Lizzo, who won three awards for her reality show “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls,” presented the award for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, which went to “Ted Lasso” actor Brett Goldstein. When Goldstein gave an acceptance speech last year, he recalled in his speech, it was cut out due to his cursing. This year, he apologized – only to be bleeped out again as he thanked his parents.

Lizzo was back on the stage to collect the trophy for Prime Video’s “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” as it won outstanding competition program. She cried on the way to the stage while inviting up all her “big girl” stars to join her.

“I’m very emotional,” she said. “The trophy is nice, but my emotion is for these people who are on the stage with me … their stories they shared, they’re not that unique, they just don’t get the platform. Telling stories … let’s just tell more stories. When I was a little girl all I wanted to see was me in the media … someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me. If I could go back and tell little Lizzo ‘someday you’re gonna see that person, but bitch, it’s gonna have to be you!’ God bless y’all! This is for the big girls.”

Actress Gina Davis’ Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media received the Primetime Emmy Governors Award, which Davis was on hand to accept. While she thanked the academy for recognizing and believing in its mission, she called back to Lizzo’s acceptance speech as an example of why her organization is important.

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“As Lizzo knows, television can often directly impact how people see themselves and judge their value in the world,” she said.

More: “Saturday Night Live” won for variety sketch series. John Oliver & Co. won outstanding variety talk series with his “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO. A choked-up Amanda Seyfriend won lead actress in a limited or anthology series or movie with her role as Elizabeth Holmes on Hulu’s “The Dropout” and actress Jennifer Coolidge won her first-ever Emmy, edging out four of her fellow “The White Lotus” co-stars in the supporting actress in a limited or anthology series or movie category.

“What a night,” Coolidge said as she fidgeted with her dress, telling the audience that she’d taken a lavender bath before the show and it caused her body to swell inside her dress. She tried to rattle off her thank-yous but the music started playing her off. “Wait, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing … and I’m full,” she said as she danced and the show played her away.

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