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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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"Abbott Elementary" creator Quinta Brunson named her hit TV show after her beloved sixth grade teacher.

Few people have as profound an effect on a child's life as a teacher does. Most of us have educators who stand out in our memories for the way they taught us, encouraged us, challenged us or nurtured us. The powerful impact of a good teacher is priceless, which is why a surprise reunion between "Abbott Elementary" creator Quinta Brunson and her sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Abbott, is giving people all the warm-hearted feelings.

"Abbott Elementary" is an ABC mockumentary sitcom that debuted in December and has been getting rave reviews. It follows the daily life of teachers, administrators and students in a Philadelphia public school. People are loving it—especially teachers.

Jimmy Kimmel brought the show's creator Quinta Brunson onto his late-night show for an interview, and as they got chatting he pointed out that "Abbott Elementary" was named after a former teacher of Brunson's—Ms. Abbott from sixth grade. And when she showed up on a huge screen behind them, Brunson almost immediately started crying.


The joyful exchange they had was sweet, but it also illustrated how incredible teachers can be. Educators who have been in the classroom for a whole career have taught hundreds, if not thousands, of kids, and yet they can so often remember details about individual students who came through their classroom.

Watch:

The first thing Ms. Abbott said was, "I'm so proud of you!" Of course. Not only did Ms. Abbott remember Quinta Brunson, but she gave details about what kind of student she was.

"When she came into my class, she was really shy, timid," Abbott said. But she challenged her students and built up their confidence, and Brunson blossomed and "came out of her shell" during that school year.

Ms. Abbott told Kimmel that she was preparing to retire after teaching for nearly 30 years, and Kimmel surprised her with a special gift—an all-expenses paid, first-class, 5-day trip for two.

"You don't have to take Quinta with you, but she kind of did name the show after you," Kimmel joked.

As a teacher, seeing your students grow up to succeed in whatever they put their mind and heart into is rewarding enough. But every teacher who dedicates themselves to their students deserves this kind of extra gift as a thank-you for the work and the care they put into helping students grow and learn. And having an entire TV show named after you? That's just icing on the cake.

Congratulations to Quinta Brunson on the success of "Abbott Elementary" and to Ms. Abbott for the deserved recognition she's received from it. Teachers are heroes who should be highlighted like this more often, so seeing this joyful reunion and celebration is lovely to see.

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When Madeleine Sami started off in theater, she found herself playing stereotypical roles for people of color.

The New Zealand filmmaker/writer/actress is half Fijian-Indian and half Kiwi with Irish heritage, and she found that there were not a lot of three-dimensional roles available to her.

According to a recent survey in New Zealand, only 38% of television writers are women. And a recent UCLA diversity report in Hollywood shows that minorities are underrepresented 2 to 1 in cable, scripted, and reality TV leads and that for women, it's about the same.


So she made a decision: She'd cast herself in the roles she wants.

She's not just one lead in her TV show, "Super City"; she cast herself in five lead roles.


GIF via NZonscreen on YouTube

"Super City" shows that an actor of color can play multiple roles — roles that even open-minded casting directors might never have considered!

When you're the writer of your own story — literally or figuratively — you can consider anything.

She wrote roles for herself like these:

— Pasha, a ditzy actress and socialite


All images via "Super City" trailer/YouTube.

— Azeem, a patriotic male cab driver

Did Sami do such an incredible and hilarious job in a male role that I'm reconsidering the necessity of casting based on gender? Those thoughts are forming.

— Linda, a middle-aged and uptight aspiring artist

— Jo, a fitness trainer grappling with her sexuality

— Georgie, a homeless mom trying to make it as a parent

And all in one show!

By both making her art and selling it on the entertainment market, Sami and her show are a powerful proving ground for the marketability of diverse voices in entertainment.

It was through social media, Facebook in particular, that Sami realized just how much people were really responding to her show.

GIF via NZonscreen/YouTube.

She says, "Someone set up a 'Super City' quotes page on Facebook. ... I had a look at it the other day ... people remember whole paragraphs of dialogue from the show!"

Because of Facebook, Sami was able to hear from her fans directly. She was able to get confidence directly from the people she was trying to reach. And things must've gone well with TV studios because the show got a second season!

Diverse characters, voices, and perspectives all interact in "Super City." It's a comedy, and if you watch the trailer, you'll see how funny it is but that something else is going on.

By having all the parts played by one person, we can see how alike we all are! It's pretty cool.

Watch the trailer for Sami's show and have a laugh!