How Quinta Brunson Saved the Sitcom

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Dress, $350, by Staud. Sunglasses, $995, by Jacques Marie Mage. Earrings, $2,500 for pair, by David Yurman. 

That success validated her instincts that there’s still a massive audience for broad-appeal sitcoms. “People are still watching network television,” Brunson says. “Our generation—who thinks it’s the center of the universe—just felt that because we had moved over to streaming and cable, that network must have died. It just wasn’t true.”

In September the show, lauded by critics and fans, took home two Emmys, with Sheryl Lee Ralph, who plays a no-nonsense kindergarten teacher, singing much of her acceptance speech for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series, and Brunson winning for outstanding writing for a comedy series. Some felt that her special moment was upstaged by the award’s presenters, Will Arnett and Jimmy Kimmel, who did an extended bit in which Kimmel pretended to be passed out onstage. Later that night, Brunson joked that she was ready to punch him, but she’s more forgiving now. “I love Will Arnett, and I know no one wants to hear this, but Jimmy too,” she says. “I get it, I get how it looked on television. I get it. And once again, it was another example of how you cannot control how things are done or perceived. I wasn’t thinking about any of that. I was like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe I get to go up on the stage and accept an award. It was so surreal. It was just so surreal.”

After receiving her Emmy, Brunson was greeted backstage by her close friend Ayo Edebiri, the costar of FX’s The Bear, who was about to go onstage to present. “I just got chills,” recalls Edebiri, who felt that Brunson’s win signaled a larger shift. “There are barriers that are continuing to be broken down. There’s an inspiration in that she’s doing something that’s different than I necessarily want to do for myself, and it’s in ways different than what Issa [Rae] has been doing. Everybody is getting to be themselves. And I think especially for Black people—everybody’s always like, ‘Black people are not a monolith’—but people still want that from you.”

Occasionally, Brunson wonders whether she should adopt a more cerebral style so that she looks the part of an Emmy-winning showrunner. “Sometimes I’m on these showrunner panels and stuff,” Brunson says. “I’m like, Should I get glasses?” She’s been experimenting with a new pair, but given that she already has 20/20 vision, it’s unclear whether they’re working. “I have my certain style,” she says. “And I don’t want to change who I am to fit what a showrunner should look like.”

Photographs by Texas Isaiah  
Styled by Mobolaji Dawodu
Hair by Alexander Armand
Makeup by Renée Loiz using Westman Atelier
Tailoring by Yelena Travkina
Produced by Seduko Productions
Special thanks to Warner Bros. Studios

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