The AS Program Board recently hosted a live “Real Talk” event with comedian Quinta Brunson, where she reflected on her career and shared meaningful advice for other Black women going into the entertainment industry.
Brunson knew she wanted to work for entertainment since college, where she studied subjects related to the arts rather than majoring in acting itself. She favored this route as it broadened her understanding of the media industry. As a creator, an important philosophy of hers is to keep trying new things and exploring new avenues. So far, this growth led her to create a name for herself both online and on television, from starting her viral Instagram series to now writing her own TV show pilots.
When reflecting on social media’s role in her career, Brunson described the platform as a place where she didn’t have to wait for a chance to showcase her unique humor and writing. She used her talents and freely produced content directly for her viewers. Upon approaching newer platforms like TikTok, Brunson reported that she was “learning from afar” and liked seeing the editing features young creators would play with. She also shared her personal love-hate relationship with social media, particularly Twitter.
“WHEN REFLECTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA’S ROLE IN HER CAREER, BRUNSON DESCRIBED THE PLATFORM AS A PLACE WHERE SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR A CHANCE TO SHOWCASE HER UNIQUE HUMOR AND WRITING.”
“Sometimes I listen to Jazmine Sullivan songs and I think, that’s me and Twitter. I don’t have man problems, I have Twitter problems,” she said. She characterized the platform as a place of great social discourse and learning, but not an ideal place for community due to continuous negativity.
Brunson also described her experience as a Black woman in entertainment and the challenges she faced throughout her career. She discusses the Black and white influencer pay gap, an effect of “trickle-down” racism. There are fewer roles for Black women, often pitting Black people against each other for a particular spot or role.
Brunson defined these as the “boxes” that Black people and other minorities are often placed into in the media. An example of this is rewriting Black, genderqueer stories under the “Awkward Black Girl” trope. Trying to break such molds is seen as radical and political, rather than just candid storytelling.
“From people not remembering your name, to being the only Black person in the room, Brunson remarked on these difficulties and also shared advice for Black women entering this industry.”
Furthermore, Brunson used the word “rare” to describe the experience of working on “A Black Lady Sketch Show” with an all-Black cast where the women could learn from each other rather than have to compete with one another.
“I’m not sure it will happen anywhere else,” she recalled. “There’s a sisterhood there that only comes from knowing how fucking difficult it is to be in this industry.”
From people not remembering your name, to being the only Black person in the room, Brunson remarked on these difficulties and also shared advice for Black women entering this industry.
Her number one tip: protect your “piece.” She explained that people will ask for many “pieces” of you, such as where you stand politically, simply because you are a minority. Brunson remarked that while this is unfair, especially in the face of community trauma broadcasted in the news, you shouldn’t be expected to give so much of yourself. She advises to always check in with what you are comfortable sharing and to talk about things when you are ready.
When asked how she finds courage to take leaps in her career, Brunson said she begins by asserting the confidence that she will always figure out a way to support herself first. She also related hesitancy to taking risks with “Black kids,” who she says especially have this fear of not succeeding in what they want to pursue.
“I think the only way to survive it, and be alive, and come out on the other side is through community,” she stated. She is thankful for her connections with people who nurtured her and who inspire her to tell the stories she is passionate about telling.