Sheryl Lee Ralph carved out her own way from "Dreamgirls" to "Abbott Elementary."

The comedy series Abbott Elementary has nominated seasoned performer Sheryl Lee Ralph for an Emmy for her portrayal of a strict but caring kindergarten teacher.

Ralph explains, "It's about teaching [kids] that limits are there for a purpose.

"On set, everyone is constantly perplexed as to why my 'class' of kids are always the most attentive, attentive, and quiet."

"I just talk to them that way, and we communicate with each other, and my set is always ready to go."

In the 1977 Sidney Poitier picture A Piece of the Action, Ralph had her big break.

then she had an even greater break when she appeared in the popular Broadway musical Dreamgirls in 1981.

Ralph relocated to Los Angeles when Dreamgirls became a hit. but discovered that Black performers had limited jobs open to them.

She appeared in the 1990 film To Sleep With Anger, for which she earned an Independent Spirit Award

and from 1996 to 2001, she portrayed Brandy's stepmother on the hit comedy Moesha. She is currently nominated for an Emmy for Abbott.