Since she was 2, comedian Quinta Brunson has been quoting Wanda from In Living Color. She has a knack for the comic. So when the West Philadelphia native attended Temple University, she was a part of the school's comedy variety TV show, Temple Smash.
In 2012, with $300 in her pocket, she moved to Los Angeles. Her first California check was signed by rapper Childish Gambino (Donald Glover), after she worked as a production assistant on his music video for "Heartbeat."
On Instagram, she created "The Girl Who's Never Been on a Nice Date,"tr a character pleasantly surprised by her date's micro-splurges - a large popcorn prompts "A large?!" and "He got money!" Both exclamations have become ingrained in the urban lexicon.
Now she's one of the rising stars at BuzzFeed, where she writes, produces, and acts in hilarious sketches viewed by millions.
Did you expect "The Girl Who's Never Been on a Nice Date" to go viral like that?
I didn't expect that at all. Here's how it happened: Another Temple grad, DJ Damage, we're friends, and he said, "Q, you need to put some stuff on the Internet," and that he always sees me onstage or sees me acting funny just around us.
At first, I was like, "No, I don't really want to." I was very into my growth and my plan. I wanted be on the Second City main stage and then go to [Saturday Night Live]. One day he filmed me acting out of character and put it up on his page, and people loved it. I did another video, he put it up on his page again, and the response was crazy.
When you get into her character, from whom do you draw?
It's probably a little bit inside me. It's probably most related to friends of mine I have in Philly and just girlfriends I know.
Do you find that people recognize you?
All the time. From the Instagram videos, I had fans from that who would recognize me from that, for sure. That was more like black people, urban culture. When I started with BuzzFeed, it's everybody.
When did BuzzFeed happen?
Actually, in September, a friend of mine, Justin Tan, and they asked me to do one of their popular taste-test videos, and they really liked me and I really liked them. I liked the way this company works. It reminded me of Apple and Pixar. The creative environment. BuzzFeed gives me the ability to create my own ideas, which is something that became very valuable to me after working in Hollywood and seeing that that wasn't always an option.
The videos seem to make themes out of regular, daily occurrences.
It's great because it humanizes everyone, which is something I'm actively trying to do in my career: Humanize everyone and show that we're not that different. And even if we are, you're still a human being.
Like the "True Love Stories" video.
Yeah! Catcalling is a big thing right now. I said, "You know, the extremes of feminism are from one end to the other." It's "Don't say anything to me" or "Say everything to me." There's no middle ground. I know people who have gotten married off of someone asking for their number on the street, and that's a voice no one is hearing right now.
It shows there isn't one single perfect path to love.
Yeah, because if you look at it, a lot of people are divorced before you know it, and those people had a skywriter write their name out to ask, "Will you marry me?" You don't need that all the time.
I like the "9 Perks of Being Short" video. What's the craziest thing someone has said to you because of your height?
I've heard so many short jokes at this point. This girl, she used to say: "You're so short. Do you get a handicap sticker for your car?," and I was like, "Nah, does your mom get one for having you?"
To what extent do you think the Internet and social media have helped break down social barriers?
One hundred percent. I think you can always break down barriers when you have the realm to create your own work. So as long as you can create freely, and especially to a mass amount of people, you have the ability to change minds or change the fabric of whatever genre you're in. The Internet has done that on a grand scale.
Do you think that's the future of comedy?
I think it's a part of the future of comedy. Who knows what will come out next. I know it was exciting when YouTube was around. All my sketches can be seen by other people, and they don't have to be on SNL? Great. Then Vine and Instagram came along and it's, like, "I can make it here? I don't need a computer? Awesome." Something else will come along that will change the face of creation of comedy, for sure.
I know you love Kevin Hart. Do you want a career something like his?
I appreciate Kevin Hart for creating his own production company and branding his own voice. Those are two things that are very important, especially for minority creators. It's another reason why I'm a really big fan of Will Smith: He's very much himself, and he created his own production studio. You're mass-producing your own work; that's definitely something I've always wanted for myself.
How would you describe your comedic voice?
I've been described as the black Ellen, when it comes to my stand-up. I don't own that. My stand-up is very matter-of-fact humor, and I love it that way. That's how I think. My humor is more explorative than it is observational. My ultimate goal is to humanize people. That is what I'm always about. I think I'm still forming my voice. I don't even know yet. I'm young.
You worked with BuzzFeed, MTV, and in stand-up . . . in terms of success, do you now have "a large"?
[Laughs.] I think I'm comfortable. I am supporting myself, which is an awesome thing to do. Which in my eyes is "a large." I feel like I'm "a large" right now. Other people may not consider me a large, but I'm good, I feel great.