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Quinta Brunson Deserves All the Emmy Flowers, Makes History With ‘Abbott Elementary’

Girl YES!

Abbott Elementary cast

The 74th Emmy Awards has released its list of nominations and much to my absolute Black girl joy, Abbott Elementary is up for several awards. Created by Quinta Brunson, the mockumentary sitcom focuses on a group of teachers working at the titular school, which is located in Philadelphia. Despite the elementary school being underfunded, the teachers work to give their all to their students, offering up some fantastically relatable life lessons along the way (and plenty of laughs, heartfelt moments, and a ship or two). The series has been a definite highlight in my household and I’m glad to see it getting the recognition it deserves.

What nominations did Abbott Elementary get?

Abbott Elementary itself is up for outstanding comedy series. According to Clayton Davis over at Variety, Brunson (who plays Janine Teagues in the series) is up for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series and writing for a comedy series (specifically for the pilot episode). Brunson isn’t the only actress up for an award. Both Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph are up for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series as Principal Ava and Barbara Howard, respectively. Along with James and Ralph is Tyler James Williams, who plays substitute teacher Gregory Eddie. He’s up for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series.

The reactions from the cast so far are delightful and, honestly, perfectly in character.

A first for Black women

“(Quinta Brunson) is the first Black woman to earn three noms in the comedy categories in the same year,” writes Clayton Davis over at Variety. “At 32, Brunson is also the youngest Black woman ever nominated in the comedy acting category.” Davis continues with the following:

Both lead actress in a comedy and writing for a comedy series have only had one Black woman winner each in the Emmys’ previous 74-year history — Isabel Sanford won in 1981 for her iconic role as Louise in CBS’ “The Jeffersons” and Lena Waithe alongside co-writer Aziz Ansari in 2017 for Netflix’s “Master of None.”

In 2020, we saw history made with the first two Black women nominated for both comedy series (as producers) and lead actress in a comedy — Issa Rae for HBO’s “Insecure” and Tracee Ellis Ross for ABC’s “Black-ish.” (Rae was nominated again for lead actress this year.)

As Davis writes, we’ve seen a rise in the inclusion of Black creatives when it comes to entertainment and these awards, but like all spaces when it comes to diversity and inclusion, we still have a long way to go. “Only one Black person has won the Emmys’ top comedy category ever — Winifred Hervey for ‘The Golden Girls’ in 1987.”

All the nominations for Abbott Elementary are very much deserved, but I do long for the day where our accomplishments are seen as norms in the industry instead of firsts. Until that day comes I’ll be celebrating the wins we do get. Congratulations, Quinta Brunson, and thank you for introducing us to such an incredible series.

(Featured image: ABC)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)