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Abbott Elementary’s Quinta Brunson Is Moved to Tears as First Black Comedy Lead Actress Emmy Winner in 42 Years


Quinta Brunson just made history. The Abbott Elementary creator and star became the first Black woman to win outstanding lead actress in a comedy in 42 years when she took home the prize at Monday’s 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

“Thank you so much just I don’t know why I’m so emotional, I think just like, the Carol Burnett of it all,” she said while accepting the award.

“Thank you so much I love making Abbott Elementary so much and I am so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy, and I say it every time and I just love comedy so much that I am so happy to be able to get this,” she continued. “I didn’t prepare anything because I just didn’t think… Oh god. I love my mom, my dad. My sisters, my brothers. My entire family so much. I love my husband. I’m so happy. I love my cast. Oh, I love Abbott Elementary. Thank you so much.”

Quinta Brunson

The last Black woman to take home the honor was Isabel Sanford for her role in The Jeffersons in 1961. Brunson’s win alongside Ayo Edebiri’s win marked the first time a pair of Black actresses won the two comedy categories in the same year.

Quinta Brunson, 34, plays Philadelphia school teacher Janine Teagues in the ABC series. She earned three Emmy nominations this year, including a comedy series nod for Abbott Elementary —which she created, writes and executive produces —and recognition in the outstanding guest actress in a comedy series category for hosting Saturday Night Live.

Quinta Brunson said: “Performing and writing and creating, producing — I feel like I’m still doing it for my family,” Brunson told Oprah Winfrey last year.

“They’re the best focus group because growing up, we all as a family used to laugh together despite being a multigenerational household. Having these different people with vastly different senses of humor, vastly different educational levels. The programs that brought us together were meaningful to me.”


Abbott Elementary will return for third season on Feb. 7, picking up after a long-awaited kiss between Janine and Gregory (outstanding supporting comedy actor nominee Tyler James Williams).


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