You know Quinta Brunson. Yes, you do. She's that girl from that one video. And that meme you're always sharing. And this funny clip over here. She is arguably one of the biggest stars the internet has given us. And yet, she's still just getting started.
Now, three shows into her growing reign as a comedian, actor, and producer, she is stepping into the literary world with her first offering She Memes Well. When her latest show for ABC hits screens later this year, Quinta will have done what few others have: stayed relevant even without continuing to create content across social media platforms.
In fact, Brunson, who racked up millions of views for her Vine and Instagram videos, has firmly become a talent who doesn't need the internet to prove her value. It's become clear that whatever Quinta is selling, we all want it. And that is the truest testament to how much of a star she is. #goals.
Iman Milner: Who is Quinta Brunson?
Quinta Brunson: I am someone who is just trying my very best. I am trying to put, what I consider, my best work out into the world.
IM: How have you stayed inspired on this journey? Yours has been very nontraditional.
QB: Yeah. I mean, I have an undying devotion to what it is I do for a living. Because I've put so much work in already, I definitely want to see the fruits of that labor. I don't plan on pulling myself away until I feel ready. I'm inspired because I'm not interested in quitting at all.
I still feel that things are working for me, and there's more positive than bad. As far as inspiration creatively, I pay attention to what calls out to me. If it's something I'm very interested in, then it's something that I should be taking my time to write about. I take inspiration from anything that lights a spark in me.
IM: You were able to capitalize on a movement for Black women in comedy that is still very new. How do you feel about this moment, and how are you stepping into it?
QB: The more, the better so that the onus is not on just a few creators. This moment helps break through the narrative that I often feel hindered by, which is the only way to combat the idea of us being a monolith is having more people create things to prove that.
The audience's reaction to one or two things is to put us in boxes. And that's within our own culture and the outside view from white and non-Black people looking at us. That statement really becomes true as more of us get a chance to create. We have to continue to, in my opinion, shine a light on more and more people so that there are more sides of us to engage with.
IM: Your, currently untitled, pilot for ABC has quite the cast in Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams, and Janelle James. What can audiences expect from that show?
QB: I think I am telling a story that everyone has an experience with, but they've never, so to speak, had a chance to see how the sausage is made when it comes to what happens in a school. The show's about school teachers in a Philadelphia public school. My mom's a public school teacher in Philadelphia, and I went to the school she taught at, so I often got to see behind the curtain.
I think previous teacher shows have always painted a rose-colored version of schools, and they manufactured funny situations. But I got to see teachers really put in the work just to make sure one student learned something. They go through so much to make things happen while dealing with a lot of madness from the district, the principals, and the parents—they really are up against so much to make sure our kids can read.
The show is a more realistic take on teachers than, I think, we've seen in recent history. It's about the teachers and not the students. Our cast is majority Black, and I can't say that I set it up that way, but it's reflective of what I grew up with in Philadelphia.
IM: She Memes Well is officially available for pre-order. Many people may be surprised to get a book of essays from you, especially some of the more personal ones. Why did you take that approach with the book?
QB: At first, when the idea of essays was presented to me, I really wasn't into it. I didn't even want to write a book. But I started thinking about the books that had an impact on me, and I wanted other people to have that from me. So, I'm really excited for people to learn about my background. I think I present myself in a certain way, and in the past, I've had people concoct a narrative of this suburban, rich girl—that's not me.
When you become a certain level of success, people always assume you had some sort of leg up. And that wasn't the case for me. So, it's less of an address to them and more of a message to the kids who are from where I'm from—West Philly—to say, look what you can do. You don't have to come from money or the suburbs. You can have whatever interests or tastes you like and go into whatever field.
I want young Black kids to know that they can do anything they want. But also to show my peers that I come from not the best circumstances and I'm here, regardless, because I decided this what I wanted to do with my life. I'm excited for people to read about my journey through the internet because my career started while the internet was becoming an entirely new wave of media.
And I think that should be documented. The traditional media shakeup happened, and I was navigating through that. I wanted to talk about my time at BuzzFeed because that became such a controversial topic, and I wanted to give my account of what working there meant to me personally. I talk about some real things, too—gun violence in Philly and how that affects me even all the way here in LA. All of it. Shit ain't always sweet, but I chose the sweetness as much as I can.
IM: You spoke a little bit about being from a city that can be riddled with a lot of loss, violence, etc..do you have a sense of survivor's remorse? If so, how do you wrestle with that?
QB: I do that in two main ways. One way is that I give back. I look for ways to contribute to whatever I can in the city. Even if it's just my family, that's important to me. I'm not the richest person in the world, but I have access, and I love to give that to others.
The other way is I like to talk about the issues facing Philly. I don't just let that fall to the background of my success. I love talking about the city as if I still live there because part of me does. More recently, I've been sharing Philadelphia-specific things—here's what people in the city needed, here's how gun violence is affecting Philly—I never want to separate myself from it as if I'm above it. I guess it is a little survivor's remorse, but I guess I'm okay with it because I don't feel bad for "surviving," but I would feel bad if I wasn't helping others survive.