Quinta Brunson on What She Hopes Her ‘Abbott Elementary’ Character Represents

Quinta Brunson is the creator, executive producer, and star of Abbott Elementary, in which she plays Janine Teagues. She just won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Season 2 premieres on Wednesday, September 21 at 9 PM ET on ABC. Additionally, you can watch new episodes on demand and on Hulu the following day.

A workplace comedy following a group of dedicated, passionate teachers — and a slightly tone-deaf principal — as they navigate the Philadelphia public school system. Despite the odds stacked against them, they are determined to help their students succeed in life, and though these incredible public servants may be outnumbered and underfunded, they love what they do — even if they don’t love the school district’s less-than-stellar attitude toward educating children.

ABC/Scott Everett White

During a roundtable discussion with the actress, I had the opportunity to express what a comfort character Janine has become for so many after just one season. I then asked her what she wants the teacher to represent to those watching and she had a beautiful answer:

“Oh, resilience. I think she’s a dork who can be perceived as weak or annoying and a lot of different things, but I think that Janine is one of the most resilient characters that comes to mind for me. I hope she represents the resilience of everyday people, you know what I mean? Not the big, massive scale, but I think for some people just getting up in the morning is an act of triumph and I hope that someone like Janine can make them believe again,” Brunson explained to me. “That’s what she represents for me. As a character, she gets on my nerves, but I’m like, ‘Man, you know what, if Janine can then dammit, I can too.’”