TV: Being in the public eye as often as you are. How do you hold onto that sense of self in overcoming the beauty standards in your industry specifically?
QB: To me, there is no other way than just to show up as your authentic self. It’s truly the answer and one of the hardest things to grasp. But the moment you master it, the beauty you possess will shine through. Like Lizzo! She shows up 100% herself 24/7 in a world that doesn’t consider her the standard for beauty, but she shows up boldly. She’s beautiful, and you will get it whether you want to or not. It’s vital for all women, but especially black women. So many perceptions of how we should talk, think, act, and look – and the only way to combat them is to show up as the individual you are in any/every setting.
TV: OMG! YES! Lizzo is the greatest example of being unapologetically herself and speaking of – let’s dive into Abbott Elementary. Your character, Janine, doesn’t come off as fictional. She’s almost too relatable.
QB: Yeah! It’s interesting. I wanted to present real-world women through Janine and all of her co-stars. I knew the show wouldn’t work unless that were the standard. So many people have made strides toward bringing real people back to television. I credit Issa Rae’s Insecure and Donald Glover’s Atlanta. You know, shows promoting everyday black people. The actors in my show needed to be able to capture the essence of real people.
TV: I love that! Do you personally feel like you’re changing and growing with the show in the sense that maybe you’re learning more about Quinta through your character, Janine?
QB: Of course. A lot of Janine’s experiences are things I went through when I was younger but changing the outcome of that situation or having the opportunity to apply what I know now to a then problem. The way my character dresses is particular to who she is, the relationship she’s in, and the life she’s had. Now in this season, she’s gone through a breakup, and it’ll show in her wardrobe. Because in real life, as women, that’s our natural reaction. So, I can see where my insecurities and worries lie through Janine’s lens. It’s nice to reflect on how far I’ve come. But through these hardships, it’s essential to keep the show light-hearted and funny. It all just makes me grateful for being young and looking forward to getting older.
TV: In Season 2, can we finally expect Janine and Gregory to be a thing?!!!
QB: We’ll have to watch their journey as individuals. That was the goal in Season 1. Who is Janine? Who is Gregory? Even if the connection wasn’t there, who they are as individuals is important. There aren’t many young black characters on network TV right now. Let alone men like Gregory – awkward yet masculine. It’s important to me as a writer and Tyler as an actor to flesh out the journey of the individual characters. So stay tuned for what’s to follow.