'Abbott Elementary' 's Janelle James Was 'Drunk' When She Interrupted Sheryl Lee Ralph at Golden Globes

"Y'all saw Sheryl was gearing up, she wasn't going to let me say it," the standup comic joked to the audience at The Jennifer Hudson Show

Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James accept the Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy award for "Abbott Elementary" onstage at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images

Abbott Elementary's Janelle James revealed the hilarious reason she interrupted Sheryl Lee Ralph at the Golden Globes.

When Ralph, 66, stepped up to the mic in January to accept the best music or comedy series award, she thanked the audience and said the win "proves God is good." As her costar continued to speak, James cut in with a special shout-out: "I love you Mom!"

"First of all, I was drunk," she told Jennifer Hudson.

"Oh, you had a good time!" responded The Jennifer Hudson Show host, 41.

"I mean, what else? Free drinks!" James quipped. "I had been texting with my mom, so I was like, 'I'm going to talk to my mom,' not to be disrespectful to Miss Sheryl Lee Ralph."

She also noted of her costar's famously rousing acceptance speeches: "Y'all saw Sheryl was gearing up, she wasn't going to let me say it, you know what I mean?"

Quinta Brunson (C) and cast of "Abbott Elementary" accept the Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy award onstage at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Rich Polk/NBC via Getty

While James is "new to Hollywood," she has been working the standup circuit field for 11 years, touring with Chris Rock and Amy Schumer.

However, this season was her first foray into the awards show circuit — and she was not happy with the timing of the Globes.

"The Golden Globes was like two weeks after the holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving. Like, that's a man [who] planned that," James said. "We have to fit into these gowns, and I ate everything so I'm obviously not acclimated to the Hollywood thing yet."

James and Sheryl Lee Ralph in Abbott's Halloween episode. Gilles Mingasson/ABC via Getty Images

James also told Hudson she had never thought of herself as an actress before Abbott and preferred to stick to comedy. However, after she read the pilot script by creator and star Quinta Brunson, she found it "so funny" she had to at least try to take part in the series.

"I DMed Quinta, who I had only met one time before and I was like, 'I read your pilot, it's really good, I think I'm going to try to audition,'" recalled James. "And she was like, 'I didn't know you act!' and I was like, 'I don't know if I do either, but I'm gonna try!'"

Her efforts paid off — her character, Principal Ava Coleman, quickly became a fan favorite, and James has scored Emmy, Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards nominations since the series premiered in 2021.

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Abbott Elementary airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC and can be streamed in full on Hulu.

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