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Where You've Seen The Cast Of Abbott Elementary Before

Between the culture wars, the low pay, the lack of school funding, and the staff shortage issues, teachers need all the love they can get these days. While politicians are busy using the school system as a pawn in their political chess game, many teachers are working long hours and paying money out of their own pockets to buy school supplies. Quinta Brunson's comedy series "Abbott Elementary" gives teachers and administrators the respect they deserve while shining a light on the challenges they face. Told through the same single-camera mockumentary work series format that proved magical for shows like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," "Abbott Elementary" looks at life inside a predominantly Black Philadelphia school. With its sharp comedic writing and the effervescent energy between the ensemble cast, the charming and uplifting series has proven a salve for difficult times, winning three well-deserved Emmys for its first season. Let's take a closer look at where you've seen the cast of "Abbott Elementary" before.

Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues

The quirky and always-cheerful second-grade teacher Janine Teagues is committed to making the school a better place no matter what it takes — even if what it takes means screwing around with the lights until she nearly electrocutes herself. Miss Teagues is adorably played by Quinta Brunson, one of the funniest sketch comics around. Brunson got her start on social media by posting her own comedy videos on Instagram, going viral with her video series "The Girl Who's Never Been on a Nice Date." She went on to create the web series "Broke," which garnered her a nomination for a Streamy Award in 2017.

In her video "Why I Left BuzzFeed," Brunson explained that her goal had always been to make sitcoms and she especially loved shows with a mockumentary format like "The Office." After spending some time working on "A Black Lady Sketch Show," Brunson's sitcom dreams came true when her series "Abbott Elementary" was picked up by ABC. According to Los Angeles Times, Brunson named the series after a favorite middle school teacher. Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022 for creating a positive series that emphasizes the commitment of educators. Brunson has also lent her voice to several adult animations including "Big Mouth," "Lazor Wulf," and "Magical Girl Friendship Squad." She played Oprah Winfrey in the 2022 parody biopic "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story," and the comedian has also appeared on "New Girl" and "iZombie."

Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie

The Jim to Miss Teagues' Pam, Tyler James Williams plays first-grade teacher Gregory Eddie on "Abbott Elementary." Williams has been acting since he was a child, appearing in a few episodes of "Saturday Night Live" when he was fairly young and landing a regular gig on "Sesame Street" where he once taught Ernie and a rubber ducky how to draw with a computer mouse, perhaps foreshadowing his future at "Abbott Elementary." In 2005, he began playing a young Chris Rock in the comedy show "Everybody Hates Chris," a role that earned him an NAACP Image Award at only 14 years old, making him the youngest person to win the honor at the time. Williams has also guest starred on quite a few TV shows including "House," "Key & Peele," "The Walking Dead," and "Dear White People," just to name a few. He is also one of the few "Criminal Minds" guest stars to appear on more than one series in the franchise. Williams played SSA and Technical Analyst Russ Montgomery on the short-lived series "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders."

Janelle James as Ava Coleman

Most people who have spent any amount of time working in education can attest to the challenges of working under a supervisor who doesn't always make the best decisions for the students and teachers under their charge, and Principal Ava Coleman of "Abbott Elementary" takes making bad choices to a whole new level. Ava conned her way into her job and cares more about how she looks on camera than whether her students are getting their needs met. Every moment Ava is in the room, she steals the show thanks to Janelle James. The comedian got her start in stand-up and told The Root she decided to try comedy after attending an open-mic night in Illinois. In 2017, she joined Chris Rock on his Total Blackout Tour as his opening act, which eventually led to her own performance on the Netflix series "The Comedy Lineup." James joined the 1980s satire "Black Monday" as part of the writing team, appearing in the recurring role of Joyce while working on the series. In 2020, she appeared in the Comedy Central series "Corporate," and she joined the animated musical sitcom "Central Park" that same year.

Lisa Ann Walter as Melissa Schemmenti

Every school has that one teacher who isn't afraid to say exactly what's on their mind at any given time. The leather-clad South Philly gal with possible mob ties, second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti is that person at Abbott Elementary. Mrs. Schemmenti is played by Lisa Ann Walter. Like her co-star Janelle James, Walter got her start in stand-up comedy, breaking into television in the 1990s. Walter played the housekeeper Chessy in the 1998 Disney remake of "The Parent Trap" starring Lindsay Lohan and Dennis Quaid. She appeared in the 2003 supernatural fantasy film "Bruce Almighty" with Jim Carrey, participated in a romantic dance competition in the film "Shall We Dance" in 2004, and appeared in the 2005 adaptation of "War of the Worlds." She also has plenty of TV credits to her name including appearances on "Nip/Tuck," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "GLOW," "9-1-1," "Rizzoli & Isles," and "Grey's Anatomy," just to name a few.

Chris Perfetti as Jacob Hill

Awkward and adorkable history teacher Jacob Hill might ramble on about global warming or all of that time he spent working with Teachers Without Borders, but as his good friend Miss Teagues and his boyfriend Zack can attest to, his heart is always in the right place. Mr. Hill is played by New York native Chris Perfetti. A stage actor before he began working in television, Perfetti won a Theatre World Award for his role in the Off-Broadway play "Sons of the Prophet." In 2014, Perfetti played servant Tim Fletch on the short-lived NBC pirate adventure "Crossbones," which focused on the legend of Blackbeard. He later appeared in the recurring role of Brady on the HBO series "Looking." In 2016, he played ADA Elliot Pinsky on an episode of "Blue Bloods." Perfetti has also guest starred on "Gotham," "Bull," "What We Do in the Shadows," "Bonding," and "The Resident," among others.

Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard

The cheerfully clad Barbara Howard is the seasoned Abbott Elementary teacher that everyone else turns to for wisdom, advice, and shortcuts. The compassionate kindergarten teacher is the kind of educator who understands how to keep a class in line with a simple word or look. While she has long ago come to accept the limitations of the education system, she also knows how to work within and around those limits. Mrs. Howard is brought to life by veteran actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, who won an Emmy for her performance in the first season. According to The Wrap, Ralph's best supporting actress in a comedy series win is only the second ever for a Black woman and the first win for a Black woman in the past 35 years.

Ralph got her start as a stage actor, earning a Tony nomination for her role in "Dreamgirls" in 1982. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, she appeared in a number of TV shows including "The Jeffersons," "Wonder Woman," "V: The Series," "L.A. Law," "Hunter," and "Amazing Stories." She also played in the recurring role of Etienne Toussaint Bouvier on "Designing Women." From 1996 through 2001, Ralph played Dee on "Moesha." She has also been a recurring cast member on "Ray Donovan," "Criminal Minds," the 2017 "MacGyver," "Claws," and "Motherland: Fort Salem."

William Stanford Davis as Mr. Johnson

Nobody understands what's up at Abbott Elementary School better than school janitor Mr. Johnson. And if you listen to him long enough, it starts to become awfully apparent that few people in the school have done more living than the former pipe fitter, minor league baseball bunting coach, private detective, tastefully nude model, and RV salesman. Mr. Johnson is played by St. Louis native William Stanford Davis, who played a custodian in one of his early roles on "The Bold and the Beautiful" back in 1995 when he was billed as Stan Davis. Davis appeared in the recurring role of Jim on "Ally McBeal" in 1999.

From 2007 through 2009, the actor played Jake Wyatt in "Lincoln Heights," a series that would win NAACP Image Awards in 2009 and 2010. He would later play Potato Pie in "Ray Donovan" before getting cast as Mr. Riggs in the dystopian sci-fi series "Snowpiercer." Davis has also guest starred in dozens of shows including "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Shameless," "Criminal Minds," "NYPD Blue," and "My Name is Earl," among others.

Zack Fox as Tariq Temple

Tariq Temple is Miss Teagues' perpetually underemployed boyfriend. While he's not a bad person, it's clear he isn't the best guy for Janine, and the fact that they've been together so long isn't enough to justify keeping things going. Tariq is played by Zack Fox, an Atlanta comedian and musician who built a following on Twitter with his profile Bootymath, using the brand as a jumping-off point for his music, comedy, and visual art. In a Fader video that fairly sums up his persona, Fox explained that he prefers "interactive ham" over drugs, something he demonstrated by layering a piece of lunch meat with several Skittles and then rolling it up to create a "perfect Bootymath blunt." Although he doesn't have many on-camera appearances outside of his Internet persona, Fox did appear in the surrealist body horror film "Kuso" in 2017. He can also be heard within the game "Grand Theft Auto V" on the in-game radio station "FlyLo FM."

Reggie Hayes as Denzel Collins

Superintendent Denzel Collins is the unfortunate soul who Ava blackmails into giving her a job. The frustrated bureaucrat is played by Chicago native and Shakespearean actor Reggie Hayes, whose many stage credits include "Othello," "Richard II," and "A Raisin in the Sun," just to name a few. Hayes' TV credits include "Party of Five," "Will & Grace," "Criminal Minds," "NCIS," and "Black Lightning," among others. He has also appeared in a number of films including "Being John Malkovich" and "Charlie's Angels." Hayes also voice acted as Dr. Freeman on the Disney series "Kim Possible." But the actor is best known for his work on the CW sitcom "Girlfriends" as William Jerome Dent, a role that earned the actor NAACP Image Awards for best supporting actor in a comedy series three years in a row. He also appeared in the recurring role of golfer Don Todd on "Hart of Dixie."

Mitra Jouhari as Sahar

It's always exciting to introduce a super cool friend to someone you want to impress. Unfortunately, Janine's ultra-hip artist friend Sahar isn't all she's cracked up to be — something that becomes far more apparent after she rips apart the school's brand-new copies of "Peter Rabbit" for an art project. Sahar is played by Iranian-American comedian Mitra Jouhari, who is best known for her work as Yazmin in "The Big Sick." In an interview with Forbes, Jouhari cited "M*A*S*H" and "The Daily Show" as two of her biggest comedic influences. While freelance writing comedy pieces for websites like Reductress, Jouhari began working as a performer and comedy show writer. In 2016, she appeared on the election documentary episode of "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee." Jouhari also began working on "Big Mouth" as a writer, story editor, and voice actor. She also co-founded a sketch comedy group called Three Busy Debras.

Orlando Jones as Martin Eddie

For years, Orlando Jones has had a reputation as one of the most likable, fandom-loving guys in show business. Back when he was working on "Sleepy Hollow," Jones spent hours interacting with fans and talking about his own love of the show's fanfics on his Tumblr page. He has brought the same spirit to his work on "American Gods." So when the Internet community couldn't help but notice the actor bears something of a likeness to Tyler James Williams, it was only a matter of time before Jones would give the people what they want and act alongside his younger double. Apparently, Jones has heard the comparison so much it prompted him to change his Twitter to read, "Not the little boy from Everybody Hates Chris." After seeing Jones pop up in the series as Gregory's dad, the People of Twitter rejoiced.

Jones is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Nancy (Anansi) on "American Gods" as well as for his work in the original cast of "MADtv." He has also appeared on a number of other primetime TV shows including "Ghost Whisperer," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "House," and "CSI: Miami," as well as his appearances in films like "Primeval" and "Office Space."

Larry Owens as Zach

Jacob might be a bit awkward and goofy, but when he's standing next to his sneakerhead boyfriend Zach, he is exactly half of one of the cutest couples to ever grace the small screen. Once Zach appears, it becomes immediately evident that there isn't remotely enough of him in the show, something "Abbott Elementary" will hopefully remedy in future seasons. More than just a forensic shoe scientist who could easily be working side gigs as a consultant for the FBI, Zach is a lighthearted, charming, and absolutely adorable cutie-pie who seems like everything Jacob needs in a fella. Zach is played by Larry Owens, whose extensive bio in musical theater includes the parody revue "Spamilton" and "A Strange Loop." In 2020, he began working in television, appearing in the teen series "Betty," the cannabis-themed anthology "High Maintenance," the short-lived Netflix series "Dash and Lily," and the children's series "Helpsters." Owens has also appeared in "Life & Beth," "Modern Love," and "Search Party," and has worked as a voice actor on "Harley Quinn" and "Fairfax."