The Cast of ‘Abbott Elementary’ React to Historic Emmy Nominations

Chris Perfetti, left; Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James, Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and Lisa Ann Walter attend the premiere of “Abbott Elementary” in Burbank, California on December 4, 2021.

Chris Perfetti, left; Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James, Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and Lisa Ann Walter attend the premiere of “Abbott Elementary” in Burbank, California on December 4, 2021.
Photo: Michael Tran / AFP (Getty Images)

The cast of the ABC hit comedy series Abbott Elementary has a lot to be grateful for. On Tuesday, nominees for the 2022 Emmys were revealed, and almost every last person pictured above received recognition.

Chief among them were show creator and lead actress Quinta Brunson, who made history as the first Black woman to receive three comedy Emmy nominations in the same year (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, to be specific.)

Taking to Twitter shortly after the news broke, Brunson wrote online:

“Crying shaking and throwing up has new meaning to me because I real life did all three. Still speechless. Congrats to the entire staff and cast of Abbott Elementary. And I want to share this moment with all of the people who watch and love the show. Emmy nominated, baby!”

Of the history-making aspect of it all, she later admitted that she didn’t know that she reached that feat until reading a headline later in the day and that she still had “not been able to comprehend that part” yet. Speaking to Variety about it, she added:

What I can say is everyone on “Abbott” works so hard. They push themselves into new positions, from our actors, to our writing staff, to our production and art department, hair makeup, everyone. It’s very often that this work is overlooked. And while awards aren’t most important thing in the world to me, I really did want the people who worked on this show to feel recognized for all the hard work they put into it. All of the nuance, and our commitment to making people have a good time for 22 minutes. I really have no words.

But she’s not the only one whose name has been etched in the history books! Veteran actress and icon Sheryl Lee Ralph also made history on Tuesday when she received her first-ever Emmy nomination after over 50 years in the industry. (Yes, I know! Incredulous to say the least, she’s beyond overdue!) She’ll be going up against her Abbott co-star Janelle James in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Thanks to a now viral video of her reacting to the news that her son posted online, we got to see a live account of how Ralph felt in the moments after. And all I can say is get your tissues ready!

“With over 50 years of being in this thing we call showbusiness, today my mother became an Emmy nominated actress. I’m so proud of @thesherylralph . I’m so glad I could be here in Jamaica with you for this moment,” her son penned in the tweet.

Comedian Janelle James, who plays the hilarious Principal Ava on the show, also received her first Emmy nod on Tuesday. On returning for season two, she explained: “I’m just excited to come back as Emmy nominees. That’s a whole new feeling with a new joy and just excited to work with everybody again, like it was a fun gig and maybe the second time in my life I’m happy to go back to work.”

Tyler James Williams, who plays substitute-turned staff teacher Gregory Eddie, also earned a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role. Speaking to Variety after the fact, he said:

I’m shocked, excited, humbled, all of that. I thought Quinta would get nominated. But that’s about as far as I could imagine, like in the best possible world, that’s as far as it would go. So this is more than a blessing.

I love TV, man. I’m all about building arguments over time. I didn’t expect it this time, because this category was rough! Some great performances this year. And you know, I thought I did well, but I wasn’t sure I’d make the cut. The highest honor is to have the recognition of your peers, and to be able to say, “I was able to work in the time of these other great performers.”

Congratulations Abbott, here’s to bringing home the W soon! Of course, this isn’t ALL the Blackity-black nominees that made history. For the complete list of 2022 Emmy noms, head on over to emmys.com.

The 74th annual Primetime Emmy Awards goes down live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and will be available to stream on Peacock.

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