Philly native Quinta B. continues to influence with Facebook web series
Philadelphia native Quinta Brunson is making waves on new platforms.
She may not be your Facebook friend, but if you're cool, she probably has taken a cruise down your timeline.
For the last few years, Quinta Brunson has been responsible for laughter in the digital sphere, from her now-famous "He got money!" tagline to her recent preference for Hennessy over water. The comedian/actress and former Temple student keeps proving herself a pioneer by using innovative tools, like Facebook Watch, to distribute her material.
A clever sensibility and sharp wit helped the Philly native solidify a space in the digital world and on the comedy scene. Since shooting to social media fame in 2014 with her viral Instagram video, "The Girl Who's Never Been on a Nice Date," Brunson has used her comedic chops as a gateway into the spotlight, opening doors to countless opportunities. Stand-up showcases? Check. A coveted gig with BuzzFeed? Check. A starring role in skits and video clips landing in a timeline near you? Check. And how about an impressive deal with talent agency ICM Partners? Check.
With her "I'm just like you" approach to comedy, Brunson has quickly become one of the most familiar faces in digital media by delivering fresh takes on feminism, financial woes, and the millennial perspective.
Brunson now writes and stars in the web series "Quinta vs. Everything" on Facebook's newest streaming service, Facebook Watch, a video platform that houses a wide range of shows, from scripted dramas to reality, comedy and live sports.
Essentially, Facebook Watch wants to be your new TV network.
"This show was built for Facebook viewing," Brunson says. "It's an audience I was excited to create for."
As technological advances continue to shape the way content is created and consumed, digital tools for creators are becoming more accessible. But as more and more spaces are carved out of the digital landscape, finding high-quality material and drawing a large audience becomes more difficult.
Brunson has consistently been in the forefront of emerging platforms. In addition to the social media following she attracted on her own, she's had a show on YouTube Red, the website's subscription platform. By working outside traditional entertainment, like network TV and movies, she's sidestepped the gatekeepers of an industry not known for highlighting the accomplishments of black women. (Although she's still dabbling in traditional media; she's writing a memoir and working on an animated series.)
It's advantageous for "Quinta vs. Everything" to be exclusively on a platform like Facebook Watch because it's a curated experience for viewers. Brunson's content is put in front of a bigger audience, and viewers have less clutter to wade through.
If you're already among Brunson's one million Facebook followers, "Quinta vs. Everything" is almost certain to appear in your newsfeed. Her fans then do the distribution work, sharing the series with their followers, who also pass it on, increasing Brunson's reach. In 2016, Facebook released an update that prioritized surfacing content shared by friends and family versus "pages" and public figures.
"Quinta is one of our biggest stars, and she has a robust presence across BuzzFeed and all the social platforms where we distribute," says a BuzzFeed representative. "The emergence of Facebook Watch provided an opportunity for us to extend her reach and talent to an exciting new platform and deepen our relationship with a valued partner in Facebook."
Each 10-minute episode of "Quinta vs. Everything" involves a skit on a theme —"Quinta vs. Self-Care," "Quinta vs. Family," etc. — in which Brunson is faced with the everyday predicaments of the typical millennial. Is it OK to like controversial rapper Azealia Banks? Are rap superstars like Nicki Minaj appropriate role models? When is it OK to be petty? The show explores the kinds of questions we often mull over but may not get the answer to. The five-installment series places the viewer in a front-row seat in Brunson's life, drawing hilarious connections between private thoughts and reality. "The show is the opportunity to go the extra mile you can't go to in real life," Brunson says.
In one scene, Brunson and a friend are at dinner, attempting to have a normal night out when she's taunted by a kid with funny faces and attention-seeking gestures. When confronted, the kid explains, "I thought you were another kid to play with because you're so short." Insulted, Quinta reaches to attack the kid but is instead banned from the restaurant. This take on a reality with no rules is what makes the show so much fun.
Awkwardness is a prevalent theme throughout most of Brunson's work. If you've lived your life on social media long enough, you've probably had an ex reach out to you seemingly to "check in." Brunson cleverly explores this scenario, staged at her job.
She confides to her coworker, "He probably saw me on Instagram, saw I got my hair braided. I had a new, lil' jumpsuit, posted a picture the other day. It was fire! [He] probably was like, 'Let me get in there and mess that up, [let me] say something to ruin her day."
The accuracy of that scene is almost poetic. Because it's set in an office, there is an assumed layer of discretion that Brunson brilliantly tramples over. This "return of the ex" scenario has arguably become overdone in comedy — a cheap, uninspired tactic to get a laugh. But Brunson finds a way to keep it fresh and fun by just being, well, herself.
Nuanced points of morality are touched on but not resolved, leaving viewers to contemplate the complexity of pop culture and millennial life. Brunson says, "My niece loves Cardi B. and I love Cardi B, too, but I do have a weird issue with my niece wanting to grow up to be like Cardi B. That's a tough situation for me."
Because of its unique take on such issues of black feminism, the show has more depth than most shows that don't exceed 10 minutes. "It was my goal to touch on a certain part of feminism that I don't see being talked about very often," Brunson says. "It's conflicting, because I stand for all of these black women [like Cardi B.] that are killing it, but then when you have your own child, niece, or cousin, you have these visions of what you want them to be, and sometimes they don't necessarily correlate to your ideas of feminism."
Above all, "Quinta vs. Everything" feels organic. She is able to get a laugh without being cheeky or cliché, which makes the series feels Quinta-esque.
"I want people to know that my goal is to make obscure comedy," Brunson says, "and that's what I believe this show is."