There’s no denying that seeing the rise of Quinta Brunson’s undeniable star has been nothing short of inspiring. From her days of making hilarious and viral content on the internet, to now bringing the laughs to the small screen in her hit freshman comedy series, Abbott Elementary (the second season of which premieres Wednesday, Sep. 21), it’s become increasingly clear that Brunson’s trajectory undoubtedly serves as a blueprint for how to take your talents, flip them, and reverse them into a successful second act.
It’s the reason why she and her creative contemporaries like Issa Rae continue to garner comparisons online, with many celebrating both history-making women for their true-to-life depictions of Blackness and humor, as well as overall inspiration and relatability. When asked how it feels to be consistently brought up in those kinds of conversations during a press roundtable, Brunson told The Root:
“It’s amazing. First of all, it’s amazing to be mentioned in that and being an inspiration to people along with people like Issa and people like Donald [Glover]. It’s just incredible. I think I’m happy to show people what the journey can look like. I’m happy that they can see we can come from anywhere, we can come from any background and become successful in this industry. And I think, like Issa, the important things I want people to take away from those journeys is Issa is good at storytelling, period. She knows the TV industry well. I feel the same way about myself.”
She continued, “I think if people really want to do takeaways from these journeys, it’s just knowing the industry you’re going into. We may have started on the internet but I studied television and film before Instagram or Vine or YouTube were even a thing. And I think so did Issa and that’s important. It’s just important to know the industry that you want to be a part of and it’s also important to just love the work you’re doing. When I was making viral content, I had no intentions of making content [to be] viral. I was just making what I thought was good work. I believe Issa was doing the same thing with Awkward Black Girl, so it’s really about also loving the work you do.”
Speaking on Abbott Elementary specifically, the Emmy-winning writer shared that for the upcoming season, she’s focused on making sure her character continues to make small strides that speak to her overall evolution and growth.
“I like making really small strides with my characters. So in the first season, you guys saw how she [her character Janine] didn’t have that teacher voice to say, ‘Sit down.’ And then by the finale, she found that voice,” Brunson said. “I think her second season journey is very small, but I think that’s what’s important about your 20s. The growth you do in a year is like, ‘Man, at the beginning of the year I was texting that dumb-ass boy.’ But at the end of the year it’s like, ‘Damn, you are so much better than this.’ It’s a thing that should be an A-B thought but it takes you like a year to learn that.”
She concluded, “And I love showing that with Janine. I love showing that in characters but it’s so exciting to be doing it with a Black girl character. And it’s not even the main story, Abbott is the main story. But to be able to show that with Janine in the background is so important to me. It’s exciting work too, Janine is so different from me. So it really feels like I get to do exciting storytelling through her.”
Season two of Abbott Elementary premieres Wednesday, Sep. 21 on ABC and streaming next day on Hulu.