Quinta Brunson Went From Memes To A Deal With ABC After A Network 'Didn't Understand The Value' Of Her Work
Photo Credit: Chris Haston

Quinta Brunson Went From Memes To A Deal With ABC After A Network 'Didn't Understand The Value' Of Her Work

The year 2022 has been a stellar one for Quinta Brunson. 

Along with winning an Emmy for Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series, the actress, producer, writer, and showrunner’s hit mockumentary show “Abbott Elementary” has brought in record-breaking ratings. 

"She Memes Well"

The wins haven’t stopped since the show’s premiere. However, how the 33-year-old became an award-winning multi-hyphenate creator didn’t happen overnight.

Before the world came to know her as Janine Teagues on “Abbott Elementary,” Brunson was behind several of the most popular memes social media has seen. The start of her streak of going viral was her video series “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date” on Instagram. It was a bonafide success, which led her number of followers to blow up and allowed her to leave her day job at Apple to pursue comedy full-time, according to Brunson in her book “She Memes Well.”

“I came up with the idea of doing that [girl who’s never been on a nice date] character because I was asked to put on a sketch show at The Comedy Store here in Los Angeles, which is notoriously not a sketch place—it’s a stand-up place,” Brunson told Fast Company. “But it was an opportunity to do something and be seen. I was young and hungry, and I wanted to do comedy and be seen doing it.”

“It was in front of an all-Black audience, which we didn’t know would be the case when we put the sketch show together,” she continued. “So that was really make-or-break. If it wasn’t good, I was going to know. Not only an all-Black audience, but an all-Black audience that came to see stand-up. They didn’t come there for the Woo! Zip! Zap! Zops! They came for stand-up. So I started it there, and that audience loved it. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have something.’”

Quinta's BuzzFeed Era

Following the video series’ Internet success, there was a point where she became “broke.” But her friend and comedian Justin Tan invited her to eat Doritos in a Buzzfeed video for $200, which led to her being hired and a force at the company, per Buzzfeed.

From 2014 to 2018, she wrote, produced, and starred in sketches. What’s more, she helped bring fellow Black creators on board.

But Brunson's dream was to make sitcoms and working at Buzzfeed became in the way of focusing on her own endeavors.

“For me, it was time to leave when my ambitions became different than just working a nine-to-five,” she explained in a BuzzFeed video. “Requesting time off to do things like write on a TV show and that conflicted with keeping a nine-to-five job honestly. For me, it felt like college and you have to graduate from college. And I think it was really just time for me to graduate.”

"A Sign That Times Are Changing"

Brunson’s decision turned into her guest starring in shows such as “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and “Big Mouth,” as well as creating her own projects.

In 2021, Brunson sold “Abbott Elementary” to ABC — a deal that resulted in her having one of today’s biggest shows on her hands.

“There was one other network that will remain nameless that didn’t understand the value of it, but that’s how it goes,” Brunson told PEOPLE. “ABC won that bidding war. My co-showrunners Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker also saw the vision right away. I was fortunate. It’s most certainly not a common L.A. story for Black creators, but I think [I’m] a sign that times are changing.”

Thanks to her both creating and booking shows, Brunson has gone from “very, very, very broke,” as she describes in her PEOPLE interview, to building wealth.

According to Celebrity Net Worth’s estimate, Quinta Brunson has a net worth of $3 million.