Janelle James The comedian discusses her breakthrough acting role in the ABC sitcom as a laughably terrible elementary school principal. Janelle James had no desire to be a TV actress. She was happy building her career in stand-up for many years.
janelle james Timing is everything, as every comedian knows. When the opportunity presented itself to her for the ABC comedy “Abbott Elementary”, it was a great fit. She had spent more than ten years in the trenches and was ready for something different. It’s easier to do TV comedy if your already a professional comedian.
In a Brooklyn interview, she stated that half of being a comedian was knowing how to tell a joke and how to pace it so another person can get the same lines. It won’t be nearly as funny.
She said that it was crucial to have great writers in this instance; her improvisational style wasn’t always suitable for family viewing.
- She said, “I’m still not used to speaking in TV network terms yet.” Many of her best ad-libs are still on the cutting room floor. “Maybe next Year.”
- Quinta Brunson created and stars “Abbott Elementary”, a mockumentary-style sitcom about a group dedicated teachers at a Philadelphia public school that is overcrowded and underfunded. The show’s humor and poignancy were praised immediately.
- It premiered on December 1st, drawing over 7 million viewers across all platforms, including Hulu. Season’s ending is a uncertain time for many network series. ABC ordered Season 2 “Abbott” nearly a month prior to its finale, which will air Tuesday.
- James has been a rising star on the show. Ava Coleman, the principal of the school and show’s comic foil, put a funny face to the frustrations of millions amid school closures and teacher strikes. Ava matched James’ impish and irreverent style well.
- Janine Teagues Brunson, Brunson’s character is selfless and dedicated to her students. Ava, on the other hand, is gleefully incompetent and ethically challenged. Ava has a passion about TikTok, doomsday prep and TikTok. It’s all about timing.
- janelle James admitted that she is still not used to being recognized by the street. As Season 1 approached, she appeared ready to unplug after months of making the rounds with various media and publicity engagements.
- She was direct, funny, and charming. When asked about her age, she laughed and said, “What about it?”… but never answered. Which neighborhood was she calling? She said, “Nobody needs know where I live.”
- She kept the camera off during what was supposed to be a video interview. She had just woken and hadn’t applied any makeup.
- She said, “I’m a quote unquote public figure.” “But, I’d like to keep my privacy for certain items for as long as it takes.”
- janelle james spoke about her role as Ava Coleman and whether it would be a good idea to survive an apocalypse. He also discussed the inspirations that fueled her character. They are real people and relatives. These are excerpts of the conversation.
- You have stated that you didn’t want to be an actress. You found this script appealing.
- It was very funny. It was funny. I am a comedian so that appeals. If I were to act, I wouldn’t want my first role be one of dramatic crying. So I thought, “Oh, comedy, that’s possible.” It was funny, which is what a script should be.
- What would you describe Ava?
- Ava is controlled chaos. She is a fashionista and an opportunist. She is a living in the moment. This is a very similar dating profile to mine. She is funny, she doesn’t know it. Ava is her priority.
What do you think she brings into the show’s dynamic?
All the characters can play against her. Everybody else cares about the best interests of the children and school, but I don’t. Problems are created by me. Janine is also a problem-maker. She cares too much. I don’t care enough to create problems.
Who was your inspiration when you created this charming villain character?
I was not necessarily thinking about a particular person. In the pilot, I was more calculated. When she called the meeting to dress down Janine infront of everyone else, that’s an indication of a specific type of person.
I was thinking specifically about my previous boss who I thought would exhibit toxic positivity. She says things that are terrible with a smile on the face and she does it all. Then, I think about a few of my aunts, and then some of me.
Are your aunts able to watch the show?
Do they? Do they? [Laughs.] People like Ava don’t know when they are supposed to be doing something. It’s a good thing. They are like, “You’re doing me wrong.” They do, however, watch the show.
One of the most amazing things about Ava is her revelations to be a doomsday preppper. What is the secret to this?
This is thanks to our talented writers. It just shows how chaotic she is. She has so many interests and personalities that seem to have come out of nowhere.
janelle james It’s like she’s a doomsday preppper, she loves “X-Men”, and she’s a clothes hound. She is very flexible and that’s something I love. It’s impossible to predict what she will say, do, or be into.
Are you sure that someone who is online but not working hard would want to survive?
It’s like a mixture of ego. Anyone who believes they can survive the apocalypse, I believe, is extremely egotistical. You see what I mean? She’ll take herself out as soon as she can get a manicure. She might want to spend the first few days in luxury before giving up and going back to her bunker.
She doesn’t know what the end is like. She believes she will stay in her bunker, watch “Housewives”, and then have her beauty products.
Do you want to live through the apocalypse or not?
Oh, no. Oh, God! I’ve been to Costco, and other places. What makes me want to live in such a world?
Ava is a fraudster to me. Real-life scammers are able to be classified on a continuum from “they believe what you’re doing in good” or “they’re just playing with people because they can.”
She is right there in the middle. Her thing is that she thinks “Hey, school system is messed-up.” She was probably a student of the same system. So here she is — made to principal, nothing has changed.
Why not take advantage of it?
What better way to position herself for the situation than by doing what is best? janelle Janine is positive and believes things will change. Ava, on the other hand, thinks that things won’t change. What can I do until everything goes down?
What was your first step into standup?
I have lived in New York almost 15 years. I also had a short trip to the Midwest for four years. That’s where I began my career at Memphis on Main, a Champaign, Ill., rockabilly biker club. It was an open mic that I performed at, and it was pure chance. It was something I enjoyed and I never stopped doing it. It was like I had a bug!
What is the difference between a stand-up role and one like Ava?
It’s easy to have someone else write your script. It’s easy to have someone else write for you. I don’t prepare. It is something I do on my own. That comes from my 10 years of experience as a stand-up comedian. It’s not that I didn’t prepare, I just prepared differently. I can quickly read a text and know how to make it funny.
My stand-up is not written. When I started, I would write every word and go over it several times. You get better at it if you practice it enough. When I have an idea, I know it’s hilarious before I say it. I don’t always sit down and think, “I need jokes to write.” I live my life to make things happen.
What are your hopes and dreams for Ava next season
You know, new clothes of course. I don’t want it to be repeated. She is perfect, so I don’t have high hopes. It’s all great. You can have more of the same or more. She’s hilarious, and I don’t want to say funnynier.
She could do more high-ranking high jinks. More blackmail. More chaos. That’s what Ava wants.
What other projects do you see yourself working on in the future.
More comedies. I would like to do more acting. However, I am very selective about what I do. Quinta was surprised when I said that I had been waiting for her since a lot of my [expletive] is corny and that I had a reputation.
I hope to be able to work on other non-corny productions. I have been spoiled by “Abbott“, so it has to be great.
I will also be on the road doing stand-up and hoping to sell out my first show. No matter how well-known you are, it’s difficult for female comics to sell out their dates.
This is something comics and club owners often talk about. It doesn’t matter how funny you are, people are less likely to try out a female comic. Now that I am more well-known, I hope that people will also enjoy Janelle janelle.