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Quinta Brunson is addressing discussion surrounding her role opposite Tyler James Williams on the breakout comedy series Abbott Elementary.
During an interview with The Guardian that published online Friday, Brunson responded to the narrative regarding the casting of Williams, the Everybody Hates Chris alum who plays Gregory on ABC’s teacher-focused hit that Brunson created. Gregory and Brunson’s Janine have developed a will-they/won’t-they relationship, and the Guardian piece cited media coverage about the dynamic, including Jezebel having recently lauded Brunson for casting herself opposite an “absolute smokeshow of a man” in Williams.
“What’s funny is when Tyler and I started working together, we both knew he was not regarded as this ‘hot man in Hollywood,'” Brunson said in the interview. “I told him: ‘Dude, you’re gonna turn into a heartthrob, the way Gregory is getting written.'”
Brunson went on to compare the situation to other female-led series that have spurred viewers to see a male co-star in a new perspective. “I saw it with Issa [Rae] in Insecure,” she continued. “There’s this narrative that gets put on it, like: ‘Oh, my God, they gave themselves a hot male lead!’ Whereas, actually, this person is hot to you because we’re telling you they’re hot. You weren’t thinking about them before!”
Williams himself has previously reflected on the newfound attention he’s been getting following Abbott Elementary’s success and the fact that it differs from how fans of his work on other shows have reacted when seeing him on the street.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show that aired earlier this month, the actor said he can tell when people recognize him from the ABC comedy because they give him a certain look that makes him think to himself, “Oh, you’ve been seeing me on Abbott — you think I’m sexy. Thank you. I appreciate it.”
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