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Abbott Elementary ’s Quinta Brunson Has a Simple Solution to Increasing On-Screen Diversity

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Quinta Brunson has a really simply solution to increasing diversity on-screen.

"The key to more diversity in television is not just sticking characters into a white world," the Abbott Elementary creator recently told Entertainment Weekly, "but actually green-lighting the stories that naturally bring those people to the forefront."

With her ABC sitcom, Quinta and the writers never set out to cast more people of color, adding, "We were worried about being funny."

As she explained, the stories they wanted to tell on Abbott were representative of communities across the country. "If more shows like this are brought to the forefront and green-lit," she said, "we won't even have to have those kinds of corny discussions anymore about, 'Where's the diversity in this thing?'"

Quinta gave the example of trying to integrate people of color into shows that are predominantly white., "Honestly," she said, "don't stick me in Mrs. Maisel. I'd rather see a show that's about our people."

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Quinta's inclination to go with the flow and trust her instincts has been contagious, especially for her co-stars like Janelle James (she plays Principal Ava Coleman). "I feel like that kind of lends to this character: that she's unprepared, maybe," she said. "I'm prepared by being unprepared. I really don't have any [preconceived] notions about what acting is supposed to be."

Abbott Elementary
ABC

Likewise, Sheryl Lee Ralph's character, Barbara Howard, comes to her easily. "I don't have to be 'on' at all," she said of the "very relaxed" situation, "but I have to be on my game for this character, for this woman."

It's the subtle actions that make Barbara who she is, with Sheryl saying that the stern teacher "doesn't always need to talk to let you know exactly how she feels."

The stars will return to the their classes for season two in the near future, but for now, they're taking a break while the writers do what they do best. "Everyone is firing on all cylinders," Quinta said. "All of our old writers came back, and we have one new writer who, coincidentally, is named Ava Coleman. I know that's so weird."

Abbott Elementary is streaming now on Hulu.

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