Actually, Comedian & Writer Quinta Brunson Loves The Kids

Photo: Courtesy of Riker Brothers.
The proverbial man would like us to believe that there's a deep-rooted, burning rivalry between millennials and Generation Z, positioning the groups as mortal enemies arguing over appropriate emoji usage and whether we should give low rise jeans another chance (we shouldn't). But if you ask Quinta Brunson, there's room for both the burned out 20 to 30-somethings and the youths living on TikTok. In fact, the comedian and writer thinks that the two groups actually have a lot in common with each other, starting with the internet.
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Brunson expands on this theory more in her recently released book She Memes Well. The book follows her winding trajectory to becoming the cross-platform media maven that she is today, starting with her blickity-Black Philly origins and her many internet-based pit stops along the way. Those who are more online than others have had the pleasure of seeing so much of that journey happen in real time; there was Brunson's iconic "He got money!" era, then all of her viral video content on Buzzfeed's YouTube channel, and now a leading role on the forthcoming ABC pilot she dreamed up on her own. All the while, she's given the people a number of Quinta memes to keep in their personal arsenal.

"That's what so cool to me — seeing regular people find different lanes to occupy and dominate through the internet. Fucking get your regular asses out there!"

Quinta brunson
Brunson's experience was very much a millennial one — she's born of the cohort that grew up right alongside the nascent internet and participated in some of its most "you had to be there" moments. (I truly have no idea how we're going to explain the global appeal of the Peanut Butter Jelly Time banana to our kids.) However, this journey isn't just relatable for people born between 1981 and 1997. Her hope is that even though they don't recognize the sound of internet dial-up, the younger crowd will be able to find common ground with her story nonetheless.
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She Memes Well does an excellent job of bridging that generational gap by describing a colorful experience that will truly resonate with Black women of any age. And the internet has been there almost every step of the way; from her initial discovery of the vast expanse of Internet Explorer to her subsequent exploration of it, to the viral status that she achieved from it over time, Brunson is quite literally a digital native — just like Gen Z.
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Refinery29 linked up with Brunson via phone to map out her journey, talking about everything from her unique affinity for the ordinary to her fondness for young TikTok creators.
Refinery29: You've said that She Memes Well has been a project long in the works. What made you decide to compile your stories into a book to share to the world right now?
Quinta Brunson: "I decided to stop dragging my feet and write She Memes Well when I realized that I do have some stories that are important to tell, especially for young Black girls under 15. So many women have written wonderful books that are talking across the hallway to people in our generation, but that kind of vantage point has been missing in the landscape. Not that I don't want this book to be relatable for our generation, but I want the girls who are younger than us to just have something to read."
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Though you're a true staple of internet culture, some younger fans only caught the most recent stage of your professional life through projects like A Black Lady Sketch Show and iZombie. Why is it so important for you catch them up on your journey?
"I really want them to know that they shouldn't count themselves out, especially if they're from the same world that I'm from. I don't want my journey and my upbringing to ever be displaced because I want to encourage kids who look like me and came from where I come from to do absolutely whatever the hell it is they want to do in life and in work."
"We have to start pouring into our kids more, especially our Black kids. People don't want to admit it, but we're about 51 in internet years now, and we've been investing in ourselves this whole time. That's great, but I also think it's time to start nurturing and mentoring the young ones."

"Coming from a very Black space gave me a certain level of freedom and confidence that allows me to be whoever I want to be."

Quinta brunson
The internet has been the bread and butter of your career. What does it feel like to see the online experience evolve in such a rewarding way for you, your peers, and the creators coming up behind you?
"I love it! I want more of it! That's what so cool to me — seeing regular people find different lanes to occupy and dominate through the internet. Fucking get your regular asses out there! I just want that for us, to be free artistically and in our every day life to be ourselves. Because the more creatives step into these roles and create things that we've never seen before, the less shocking it is when someone finally does it."
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"The more the merrier, really. There's just so much talent out there, and they have so many more stages to showcase their skills on these days. I look at some of these TikTok creators who are following me and want to DM them like, You can do whatever you want to do! They're not just TikTok comedians but creatives who have the capacity to do anything and everything. I really hope that they know that this is the beginning of greatness if that's want they want it to be."
As a Black woman who's existed and thrived within the white space that is media and entertainment for years, how have you been able to stay true to yourself?
"Growing up in Philly, we learned very early on that we needed to be proud of who we were, and there was never anything antagonizing that. We knew in first grade exactly what the world was like out there; our teachers literally made us watch Amistad instead of Cinderella."
"If I'm being honest, my Blackness wasn't attacked until later on in life. When I moved to Los Angeles and into the entertainment industry, there was a type of magnifying glass on me that I hadn't experienced before — and that came from all sides. Thankfully, I was grounded in a different way, and that gave me a tougher suit of armor. Knowing what I knew, I was able to navigate society better and dominate despite the circumstances. Coming from a very Black space gave me a certain level of freedom and confidence that allows me to be whoever I want to be."
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When everything is said and done, what's Quinta Brunson's end goal?
"I don't want to feel like any of my years were stolen. I want to have lived a full, free life and to have no regrets at the end of the day. Even my mistakes should have meaning in the bigger picture! And I want to feel like I was myself to the fullest of my ability even when it wasn't popular or 'in.' I have to do what makes me happy, regardless of if anyone cares about it."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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