Congratulations, Quinta Brunson! The creator and star of the hit ABC comedy “Abbott Elementary” took home a historic win Monday for ‘Best Actress in a Comedy.’ It was the first in over 40 years for a black actress since Isabel Sanford (“The Jeffersons”). Brunson’s win also comes twenty years after the death of Sanford, who passed away in 2004, which leads me to ask? Are black women in television Movin’ on up (my gentle pun on The Jeffersons theme song) if it takes four decades for another woman of color to celebrate an Emmy win?
Sure! Brunson’s win was well deserved. I don’t think anyone there or watching would dispute it. Abbott Elementary is a fresh breath of air regarding original content creation. Some Gen Xers have fallen in love with the simplicity of the school classroom storylines that layer memories of the smell of chalk, guessing what the school cafeteria lady would place on your lunch tray, and dedicated and loyal teachers that marched the halls, making sure you didn’t get out of line or even the school line heading back from recess for that matter.
For Brunson, her acceptance speech made the moment of winning an Emmy even more emotional. Through steady applause from the audience, the actress and producer began with, “Thank you so much!” In my visible happiness for the star, I couldn’t help but think, Why does it take so long for another woman of color to become an Emmy winner in this category? Have there not been other comedic actresses like Tisha Campbell (“Martin”), Jasmine Guy (“A Different World’), Erika Alexander (“Living Single”), and a list too long to write here that should have stood with the Emmy statuette in hand and giving their acceptance speeches.
I listened to the rest of Brunson’s speech, as tears flowed from Brunson’s face and as the legendary Carol Burnett, who, by the way, presented the award, looked on proudly when Bruson expressed, “I love making Abbott Elementary so much. I am so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy.”… Yes, that part! Living your dreams, which so many deserving black actresses have and continue to do every time they appear on the small screen.
While I am excited about Brunson’s win, I carry the thought of whether it will take another 40+ years for a black woman to walk up on that stage, hold the Emmy in hand, and give her emotional speech for Best Actress in a Comedy. I don’t know, but in the meantime, I will celebrate a woman of color creating, writing, producing, and starring in a masterpiece that highlights the shining presence of Quinta Brunson, and perhaps, her creative and believable energy ushers in more women of color receiving the award more frequently, so moving on up is far less too long in years. I think “Weezy,” I mean Isabel Sandford, would agree, too.
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