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Is Manny a Love Interest for Janine? Quinta Brunson Weighs In

Emmy-winning actress/writer Quinta Brunson, who plays teacher Janine Teagues on Abbott Elementary, and the show’s other executive producers, Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker, and Randall Einhorn (who is also a director on the series), recently held a Q&A panel during the 2024 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour.

Following the session, Brunson stayed on to chat with a small group of outlets, TV Insider included, about her thoughts on a variety of topics, ranging from what’s happening on the show this season to how she’s handling success. Read on to get her thoughts on what is turning out to be a very happy time in life.

On If Manny, Played By Josh Segarra, Will Continue To Be A Love Interest For Janine This Season

It’s very funny because I feel that that’s up to you guys. We never said that he was a love interest. There seems to be audience perception so far [that he is]. So I’m interested to see if you continue to think that he will be.

On How She’s Handling The Show’s Success

I just focus on the work. Focusing on making the show keeps me grounded and balanced and helps me navigate things. It’s a learning curve, for sure.

On When She Meets Real-Life Teachers Who’ve Been Impacted By Abbott Elementary

It’s affirming because I feel like my work is touching people. That’s why we make things – to have a conversation. It’s amazing to meet them because it feels affirming. I’m getting my heart and soul out there. I just try to have conversations with people and be reminded that we’re all still people.

Is There Anything that Ava Coleman [Played By Janelle James] Can’t Say?

[Janelle’s] got this. I don’t think we ever want to put anything in [Ava’s] mouth that would get her in trouble with audiences. We want her to be able to say what we think she should say. We don’t try to make her controversial. There are things that I can’t say, but I put them in Ava’s mouth. That feels good.


On The State Of The Sitcom Genre

I want it to thrive. There are amazing comedies out there. One that I thought was doing incredible work just got canceled. Why are people not watching this? I do wish that we valued comedy more as an art form. I do think it’s wonderful that Abbott Elementary is appreciated. I also think that comedy is harder to write than drama. I’m hoping that [viewers] give some other comedies a little bit more love.

On What Her Favorite Sitcoms Are

It’s a long list. Almost every Norman Lear comedy, Martin, In Living Color, Fresh Prince, 30 Rock, [It’s] Always Sunny [in Philadelphia], Golden Girls, Girlfriends…I could keep going on. Curb [Your Enthusiasm] is one that I never talk about enough but I’ve been watching that for…how many years has it be on now? Thirteen seasons? It’s been a big part of my life. It has heavily influenced me. Also, The Larry Sanders ShowRoc, which starred Charles Dutton, and Taxi. You want me to keep going?

On If They Have Unlimited Children To Appear On Abbott Elementary

No, there’s not an unlimited supply. We have to do outreach. One of our makeup artists, Constance, had her church make an announcement — ‘Hey, you guys, we need Black children to come act on Abbott Elementary,’ and we got a whole slew of kids from her church. They had never acted before, but it really worked. They learned how to be on a set and about this world. It’s not an unlimited supply because the kids get older.

On What Happens When Kids Grow Up

We age them into ‘hallway kids.’ We only have really have a 2nd grade on-screen and a 1st grade or kindergarten. We don’t want to completely lose the kids who have aged out. They’ve become floaters or ‘cafeteria kids.’ [Smiles] They take a little wrangling, but it’s okay. We’re still shooting [scenes with them] within two hours. Our kids are wonderful and well-behaved.

On How Having Been A Content Creator At BuzzFeed Influences Her Current Roles As Executive Producer/Writer/Actress

One of the things that I learned from making digital content was how to appeal to massive groups of people. I learned that at Buzzfeed. Even if I was making something hyper-specific, they wanted to figure out how to make it touch everybody. I also learned the importance of getting people [drawn in] in three seconds – but I feel that the Internet learned that from cold opens on comedies. It all melds together. I learned about having a conversation with the audience through doing stand-up, a one-sided conversation, but it’s still a conversation.

On Experiences That Her Mother, A Teacher, Had That May Pop Up On Abbott Elementary

You’ll see one of them this year — a big moment this season. Seeing my mom and her ability to go the extra mile for a kid amazed me. She’d take them in. I remember one time a kid being in our house and I was like, ‘Why is this kid here in the house?’ My mom could not put her teacher hat aside and not give someone a home for a night. She wasn’t supposed to, [but] it’s not something she could turn a blind eye to.

On Her Mom Being Proud Of Her Abbott Elementary Success

She is! [Laughs] This is the first thing she’s ever been proud of me doing. No, that’s not true. But it was one of the first things.

On Having Her Dreams Come True

[Recently], we were on hiatus and I slept in till 8:30 a.m. [Smiles] Dreams do come true!

Abbott Elementary, Wednesdays, 9/8c, ABC

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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