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Abbott Elementary's Lisa Ann Walter Weighs In On Melissa's Tender Moment In Season 2

Warning: Spoilers for Abbott Elementary Season 2 Episode 11

It's a new year, and "Abbott Elementary" is back with new episodes every week. ABC's Emmy award-winning mockumentary series picked up its second half of Season 2 with the annual read-a-thon returning to Abbott. 

Janine (Quinta Brunson), being the tireless employee she is, wants to win the competition to prove herself. However, Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter) is the reigning read-a-thon champion, leading the two teachers to compete against each other for the title — and a literal WWE-style belt. The loser has to be a guest on Jacob's (Chris Perfetti) school-based podcast. Janine thinks she's won before Melissa finds a loophole that lets her add the book total from both of her classes to retain the belt. But, during the competition, Melissa realizes that one of her students is struggling with reading, which leads to one of the show's most heartfelt moments. 

The scene comes near the end of the episode after Melissa unsuccessfully tries to inform the student's parents of their daughter's problems reading. Since the parents refuse to listen, she takes things into her own hands, sitting down with the student and revealing that she also struggled to learn how to read when she was a kid. It's a surprisingly emotional moment for Melissa, and that vulnerability makes her tough-as-nails exterior mean all that much more.

Lisa Ann Walter loves Melissa's emotional side

Melissa's emotional scene in Season 2, Episode 11 shows that "Abbott Elementary" can do no wrong. Actress Lisa Ann Walter recently sat down with Deadline to discuss Melissa's heartfelt scene, revealing how she felt about her character's surprising vulnerability. "I think it's beautiful," Walter said, praising "Abbott" star and writer Quinta Brunson for writing it. The actress said that Brunson is a fan of her more serious work, as is evident by the reference to "The Parent Trap." Because of that, Brunson knew that Walter could handle having a heartfelt moment in an otherwise comedic episode.

Walters really enjoyed filming the emotional moment, saying it only added more depth to her character. "Also, with any character that comes off tough like that, there's a reason for it. Tough is a protection," she told Deadline. "So anytime you're protecting something, it's because there's something to cover, there's a vulnerability. So in Melissa's case, one of the things that is true is that she's feels very connected to this little girl because she also had a reading disability growing up, so she understands it and wants to protect her. So that's a beautiful place to see a different side of her."

While Walters had no issues with reading when she was a kid, she found another way to relate to Melissa's problems. In the same interview, she says she was the fat kid growing up and developed a similar tough exterior to fight off the kids who teased her.