Pop Culture of My Life: Quinta Brunson on Mindy Kaling, Crooklyn, and accidentally watching a violent Bob Odenkirk film
Quinta Brunson has been making us laugh for years.
As part of the first generation of stars to come from the internet, Brunson charted a unique course to a successful career in comedy and storytelling. From viral videos and hilarious tweets to now acting (iZombie, A Black Lady Sketch Show) and creating her own show (Abbott Elementary), her journey has been a fascinating one. Now, she can add published author to her list of accomplishments with her book She Memes Well (out June 15). The essay collection covers using the internet as a platform, the importance of nurturing a life offline, the pop culture that inspires her, and more.
Getting She Memes Well out into the world took three years, a process which Brunson calls the hardest thing she's had to do. "A book of a personal essay is so much different than creating a show or an episode of TV or a video or tweet. You become more vulnerable and more protective," she tells EW. "I wanted to make sure I was okay with everything in the book and was putting my best permanent words out there."
With the book, Brunson hopes readers get a better understanding of people who have found success on the internet, and she wants to encourage others to use the internet as a tool while also nurturing their personal lives offline. "That's a big part of the book, too. Just having a healthy relationship with knowing what it can do for them career-wise, but also having a healthy distance from it."
Below, Brunson highlights pieces of pop culture that inspire her because she is fascinated by the universal aspect of it. "A bunch of people who hate each other can agree on Beyoncé, or like a bunch of people who otherwise probably wouldn't talk to each other can agree on The Office," she explains.
My favorite book as a child
Frindle by Andrew Clements. It's a book about a little boy who decided he wanted to call a pen a "frindle" instead and it's essentially about him going viral for doing it, but the internet wasn't a thing in the book. He kind of takes over the world and gets everyone to call a pen a frindle. It's a really, really cute book that taught you the power of words and how things are left for interpretation.
The movie I've watched over and over again
The Adam Sandler movie Just Go With It. I consider it a big comfort movie. I will watch it whenever it's on TV. It was him and Jennifer Aniston, who I think make an incredible pairing. Super underrated. They have extreme chemistry together.
The last book that made me laugh
Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. It's really a book about selling movies, so it's informative, but also extremely hilarious. It tells you so much about this business, but they manage to make a really funny book while doing it.
My literary hero
What Mindy Kaling has done has been pretty impressive. She's delivered two good books and she's just extremely underrated. I really think she's actually one of the funniest people ever and of our time. She's so talented as a writer in both book and TV, I don't think she gets enough credit as an author, she's written some great books.
My last TV binge
I'm currently in it: Sex and the City. I turned one episode on and now I'm in season 5.
The song that always makes me feel better
There's a song called Funny Thing by Thundercat. Even if you're in a bad mood, it just makes you start bouncing your shoulders up and down. That's my favorite currently; I can put it on and it'll change my mood.
The movie people might be surprised to learn I love
I don't like violent movies. I just choose not to watch them, but I accidentally watched the movie Nobody [starring Bob Odenkirk]. I watched it because I saw a tweet that said, this movie is like John Wick, but for family. What they meant by that was, it was just John Wick with a family. It was so violent. There was blood and guns and violence everywhere, but I really loved it so much.
The comedic voice that doesn't get its due
Lauren Weedman is legit one of the funniest people I've ever even encountered in real life. I would love to see her have her own show.
A classic TV show that I'm embarrassed to say I've never watched
Breaking Bad. I'm very embarrassed. I hate bringing it up. When someone starts talking about it around me, I slither away. I'm missing a big cultural thing, but I just refuse. I have even started watching the spin-off [Better Call Saul] because of Bob Odenkirk and Nobody.
The fictional character who is my hero
The music I listen to while I write
I actually listen to classical music while I write.
The three people I'd invite to my dream dinner party
Marilyn Monroe, Stevie Wonder, my mom. My mom because it'd be funny to see her experience both of those people at the same time.
A person on the internet more people should be paying attention to
Khadi Don. She doesn't make internet videos as much anymore, but I've always really enjoyed them. I think she's really, really funny.
The TV show I wish I'd written
Dinosaurs on ABC. It was an old show with all puppet dinosaurs, very silly, but because of that, it had great humor because they got to touch on things that that are harder to touch on in real life. It was really inventive. I wish I would have been able to work on something like that.
A movie or show I consider grossly underrated
Spike Lee's Crooklyn. I think it's a masterpiece and should be considered one of the best coming of age stories.
What I'm reading now
Look I Bought Plants by Eva Victor and Taylor Garron. You know those little teeny inspirational poems and stuff make you feel good. This is ironic. Poetry, so it's about them talking about the nothingness in their life. It's just adorable and enjoyable.