Sheryl Lee Ralph Met Rihanna Ahead of Their Super Bowl Performances — and Says She's 'Nervous' for Game Day

"She's got like a warrior spirit, you know? It's like, 'No, why would you mess with her?' " Ralph told PEOPLE of meeting Rihanna

Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rihanna
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Sheryl Lee Ralph had some bonding time with Rihanna before the 2023 Super Bowl.

At the 12th annual NFL Honors on Thursday, the Abbott Elementary star — who will perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing" ahead of the big game on Sunday — spoke with PEOPLE about meeting Halftime Show performer Rihanna.

"First of all, Rihanna's so much taller than I imagined. She's really quite a beautiful amazon. I was like, 'Oh my God, look at her.' Yes, this is Savage Fenty. I completely get it," Ralph, 66, told PEOPLE.

"She's got like a warrior spirit, you know? It's like, 'No, why would you mess with her? No, you'll never win. No, she's winning all the time.' I loved it. It was great meeting her."

When asked if the two discussed preparing for their respective performances, Ralph said, "You know what [Rihanna] said to me? She said, 'I'm sending you all the makeup you will ever need. Please make sure you are a Fab Fenty face on Sunday.' I said, 'For you? Absolutely.' "

She then proclaimed, "I will be Fenty down."

Rihanna poses on stage during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Press Conference at Phoenix Convention Center on February 09, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Kevin Mazur/Getty

The NFL previously announced that Ralph is one of the performers for Super Bowl LVII's official pre-game lineup.

On how she's preparing for her big game-day performance on Sunday, Ralph told PEOPLE, "You know, they say it takes a thousand times to perfect something. So I'm up to about 799 [times]. I'm going to keep on listening to my song and be ready to sing and make it happen on Sunday. I'm so excited."

Though Ralph has been rehearsing for her performance, she revealed, "Oh my God, I was so nervous yesterday. I could hardly move."

"It was like classic nerves. I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm gonna be sick.' And I actually was. I said, 'Oh no. I'm that nervous,' " she added. "I made myself sick."

To calm her nerves, Ralph told PEOPLE, "My son with all of his yoga stuff, he was like, 'Box breathing, Mom. Breathe deeply. Hold it in for four. Exhale. Breathe in for four. Hold it. Exhale.' "

"I was like, 'Okay, we're gonna get right into breathing and calm down and eat some light food,'" she said, adding that the breathing trick her son taught her is "absolutely" helping and that she is "feeling much better" about her performance.

Ralph also told PEOPLE that the NFL player she can't wait to meet most is Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin.

"Believe it or not, I'm really excited about seeing Damar [Hamlin]. I'm really excited that he's alive," she said.

During a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last month, the Buffalo Bills' safety collapsed on the field and was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center two miles away from the stadium in an ambulance after more than 10 minutes of CPR.

Hamlin, 24, was in critical condition at the time after suffering cardiac arrest; he was since released from the hospital and made his first public speaking appearance Wednesday when he was recognized for his significant charity work.

Sheryl Lee Ralph Is 'Really Excited About Seeing' Damar Hamlin at the Super Bowl
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"I'm really excited that we're gonna be able to honor tonight those first responders," Ralph said of the medical staff who treated Hamlin as well as other injured NFL players. "Tonight, we get to honor them for being able to do their job when it was needed, to make sure that he could be here."

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Super Bowl LVII will be broadcast live from the State Farm Stadium in Arizona on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

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