In a recent episode of Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Comedy Actress Roundtable,’ ‘Abbott Elementary’s Sheryl Lee Ralph revealed her thoughts about her role in the series. She admitted that she actually wanted to play a different role than Barbara Howard.
Recalling that Quinta Brunson insisted on her playing Howard, Ralph said she actually had a different role in her mind:
“Doing Abbott, Quinta was just like, ‘It’s all about Barbara Howard.’ I really wanted to take a jab at Ava. I was just like, ‘I can see myself doing that principle,‘ and it would be such a step away from everything that people had ever seen me do before. Quinta was just like, ‘Absolutely not!‘ and I said, ‘Okay, okay.’ She said, ‘Oh, no, that’s a deal breaker,’ and I was like, ‘Okay.’ I’m glad I listened to her.“
Speaking to New York Times in 2022, Ralph stated that she first thought Barbara would be an invisible character in the show:
“If anybody had told me that I would be playing a character like Barbara Howard, I would have said, ‘No, no.‘ I honestly thought Barbara was going to be invisible in the show. I had no idea that people would really see me. I thought I was invisible.“
Despite Ralph’s concerns, her role as Barbara Howard in ‘Abbott Elementary’ brought the actress her first Emmy Award with a win for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series.
You can watch the episode of THR’s ‘Comedy Actress Roundtable’ below.