ABC Network’s hit show “Abbott Elementary” has seen massive success since its premiere in 2021. One of the key components to the comedy’s stardom is creator, producer and lead actress Quinta Brunson. The Philadelphia native got her start on the internet, producing and uploading videos for YouTube. She has continuously worked to rise to the top and is now an Emmy award-winning actress and writer.
All stars start somewhere, and for Brunson, that was her hometown of West Philadelphia. The youngest of five siblings, Brunson grew up in a house full of people and opportunities to entertain and perform for her siblings.
She attended public elementary school in Philadelphia, mirroring her hit show’s school in “Abbott Elementary.” After attending a charter high school, Brunson went to college at Temple University, where she dabbled in improv and learned more about comedy. She pursued a degree in communications, but cut her time short and moved out to Los Angeles to start her career.
After moving to L.A., Brunson began writing and creating comedy content for social media. In 2014, she released “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date,” a self-produced comedy series that she first shared on Instagram. Brunson was met with success after her first clip of the series was posted to her feed and went on to create 10 more short clips to add to the story. The comedy series was one of the first to go viral on both Instagram and YouTube, generating a following.
Gaining popularity after the release of her comedy series, Brunson made her first appearance on BuzzFeed’s YouTube channel, with a video titled “International Doritos Taste Test.” Following the first cameo on the BuzzFeed channel came an array of other features before Brunson was offered a junior producer position at the company in early 2015. Her time at BuzzFeed was met with praise, as she made videos ranging in topics from height to friendship styles to “What It’s Like Being The Only Black Friend.”
As her videos created on BuzzFeed were gaining more and more views, Brunson continued to aim bigger and pitched an idea for a short series titled “Broke,” which was produced by BuzzFeed and sold to YouTube Red by Brunson. The series now has over seven million views on the first episode, which aired in 2016. In 2018, with a video announcement, Brunson left the BuzzFeed channel to start the next chapter of her career.
Even after immense internet success, Brunson continued to climb the ladder. She wrote, produced and starred in her own Facebook show, “Quinta Vs. Everything,” and made cameos in shows such as “New Girl,” “Miracle Workers,” and “iZombie.” She was even a voice actor for “Big Mouth” and “Cars on the Road.”
In 2019, Brunson starred in and wrote for “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” a Max show that released four seasons. Brunson left the show after Season One to begin working on her fan-favorite show, “Abbott Elementary.”
“Abbott Elementary” is a hit ABC Network sitcom based on teachers in a Philadelphia school district’s day-to-day lives. Created as a workplace mockumentary comedy, the series shines a light on teachers working in an underfunded and mismanaged district. The inspiration for the show came from Brunson’s own time spent in Philadelphia public schools. Not only did she have personal experience to draw upon when writing the hilarious script for the show, but she also drew experience from her mom.
Brunson’s mom was her kindergarten teacher and gave her a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of teachers. Much of the hardships and successes her mother faced as a teacher during Brunson’s childhood were used as inspiration for the show’s script. The appreciation Brunson has for teachers goes even further, though, as the name for the hit show was based on none other than her sixth-grade teacher, Joyce Abbott.
In ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” Brunson’s genius and hilarious writing is accompanied by a star-studded cast, such as Tyler James Williams, who plays inexperienced first-grade teacher Gregory Eddie. Other standouts are Lisa Ann Walter, who plays Melissa Schemmenti, a Brooklyn native and second-grade teacher, and Sheryl Lee Ralph, who plays kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard.
Brunson shines in the series as a high-energy and bubbly second-grade teacher Janine Teagues. The show focuses on Ms. Teague’s struggle to fit in amongst her colleagues as she dreams big of what the school could be. Brunson’s talent is hard to miss, as her writing produces hilarious moments from the cast and high ratings among fans.
In 2022, Brunson won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. This year, she secured her second Emmy and was the first Black woman in 40 years to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The show just released its third season on Feb. 7 of this year and can be streamed on Hulu.
The talented writer and actress also hosted “SNL” in April 2023, where her hilarious acting continued to win over the hearts and laughs of many.
Brunson’s career is admirable because she continues chasing new opportunities and pushes boundaries in comedy and multiple entertainment areas. While her career is now making headlines, “Abbott Elementary” is not the first of her success, but certainly will not be the last.