Add “Abbott Elementary” actor Sheryl Lee Ralph to the legions of people who didn’t care for Jimmy Kimmel‘s comedy bit during her co-star Quinta Brunson‘s Emmy acceptance speech for comedy writing at the Monday awards ceremony.
During a panel interview with the Television Critics Assn. on Wednesday, “Abbott Elementary” cast members were asked how they felt about Kimmel taking some of the shine from Brunson’s moment.
“I was absolutely confused. I didn’t know what was going on. But I was like, ‘I wish that man would just get up off the ground,’” Ralph said. “And then I realized it was Jimmy Kimmel. And then I was like, ‘Ooh, the disrespect, Jimmy.’
“That’s all right, but that’s just me. Sorry. I am so sorry,” the newly crowned Emmy winner continued sardonically. “Oh, it was lovely that he was lying on the floor during her wonderful acceptance speech.”
Ralph said that she expressed her dissatisfaction with Kimmel and that he “understood.”
Some viewers of the awards show shared Ralph’s sentiment and chimed in on Twitter to note that Kimmel’s actions overshadowed Brunson’s big moment, calling them “rude and inconsiderate.”
“Jimmy Kimmel should have left the stage during Quinta’s speech,” tweeted journalist Philip Lewis. “Highly disrespectful.”
Theologian and author Candice Marie Benbow wrote, “Jimmy Kimmel owes Quinta an apology but the messed up part is every image of her accepting her award has his a— in it.”
“I don’t know of a better example of invasive white male privilege than Jimmy Kimmel laying in the middle of Quinta Brunson’s #Emmys2022 speech,” tweeted @TheCourtKim. “He had no business/right to take up space in the way that he did.”
Lisa Ann Walter, who also stars in the series, thought the bit “played funny in the room.”
And Brunson mentioned during the panel that she would be a guest on Kimmel’s late-night talk show Wednesday night.
“I’m anticipating that we are going to have a good old-fashioned time,” Brunson said of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.” “I have talked with Jimmy since, and I think no matter what, it’s important to just showcase that ‘Abbott Elementary’ is premiering next week. I think it’s gonna be a good time, and you’ll probably just have to tune in and watch.”
While doing press backstage at the Emmys, she said, “I felt like the bit didn’t bother me that much.”
Brunson expressed gratitude at the Emmys for the opportunities and support Kimmel has constantly given her.
“Honestly, Jimmy gave me my first late-night spot and was one of the first people to see ‘Abbott,’ and he Instagram messaged me that he saw this comedy and thought it was one of the greatest comedies of all time and he was so excited it was going to be on ABC,” she said. “So I think in that moment, I was just really happy that it was Jimmy up there.”
Brunson’s speech wasn’t the only noteworthy one for the “Abbott Elementary” cast. Ralph’s acceptance speech for supporting actress in a comedy was a showstopper. The actor, who is also a Tony-nominated singer, performed several lines from jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves’ song “Endangered Species.”
“I am an endangered species / But I sing no victim’s song / I am a woman, I am an artist / And I know where my voice belongs,” Ralph sang to uproarious applause.
Backstage after her win, Ralph explained what the song means to her.
“I’ve been singing that song for years because I think of myself as an artist, as a woman and especially as a woman of color, I’m an endangered species,” she said. “And I don’t sing any victim song. I’m a woman. I’m an artist, and I know where my voice belongs.
“There are so many young actors, artists, even kids that think they know what they’re going to do in life,” she added. “Find your voice and put it where it belongs.”