Sheryl Lee Ralph Originally Wanted Different ‘Abbott Elementary’ Role, Why Quinta Brunson Said No (Exclusive)

The actress revealed why creator Quinta Brunson shot down her hopes to play a different character.

Sheryl Lee Ralph is loving every minute of Abbott Elementary's awards season run! 

ET's Denny Directo caught up with the Emmy winner on the red carpet at the 2023 SAG Awards on Sunday, where she raved about the acclaimed ABC comedy's recent success at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and more.

"I know blessings, and that is one," she shared of the acclaim.

The Abbott cast earned two SAG nominations this year, one for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and one for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, for series creator and star Quinta Brunson.

However, Ralph recently revealed that the show's success could have looked totally different. The actress shared that she originally wanted to play Abbott's self-obsessed principal, Ava -- a role that ultimately went to Janelle James.

"When I mentioned to Quinta, 'Give me a shot at the principal,' she said, 'Absolutely not. We need a queen for Barbara Howard, and you are that queen,'" Ralph recalled. "And I'm so glad that she stood up for Barbara Howard the way that she did, because she's really given me the gift of a lifetime."

It's been nearly 10 years since a network comedy won the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series -- Modern Family was the last to do it in 2013 -- but Ralph said she was bolstered by the cast's big win at the NAACP Image Awards the night prior and has total faith in her co-stars.

"I think it's absolutely time, and I think that Abbott Elementary is the show to do it," she raved.

Ralph also raved about her dress for the evening, saying her awards show run has her feeling like "every day is Cinderella" and praising her designer, Tadashi Shoji.

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images

"Tadashi has been hitting these shows, these red carpets, for years, and he still remains relevant with his style," she shared. "He used to design for my daughter and me when she was little... and he's still killing it for me."

And, apart from big wins for her show, Ralph was looking forward to one thing in particular at the SAG Awards: "I hope they've got good cocktails tonight!"

The 2023 SAG Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. The ceremony will stream live on Netflix's YouTube channel. See the full list of winners here and stay tuned to for complete SAG Awards coverage.