Abbott Elementary is a hit ABC mockumentary series that chronicles the antics of teachers at a Philadelphia school with a significant lack of funding as they attempt to provide the finest education possible despite several obstacles.
With its relatable and humorous characters and clever commentary on the American education system, it’s no surprise that Abbott Elementary has firmly cemented its place as a must-watch series.
(L-R) Chris Perfetti, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson, Lisa Ann Walter, Janelle James, William Stanford Davis, and Tyler James Williams, winners of the Best Comedy Series for “Abbott Elementary,” pose in the press room during the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock)
From the hardworking and cheerful Janine Teagues, played by the show’s creator Quinta Brunson to the Principal, the Sub, and the Janitor, who all play essential roles in this hilarious ensemble, we’ll explore the various characters and the talented actors who bring them to life.
Let’s dive in and get to know the eclectic cast of seasoned actors and upcoming talents of Abbott Elementary, rank them from shortest to tallest, and see how they contribute to the show’s success.
1. Quinta Brunson (Janine Teagues) – 4ft 11 in. (149.9 cm)
Quinta Brunson, who stands 4ft 11 inches (149.9 cm) tall, is an American actress, writer, and comedian best known for her role as Janine Teagues in the television series Abbott Elementary.
During an interview with Mike Hughes.TV, she playfully revealed her petite height, stating that she can fit comfortably in any airplane seat.
Janine is a second-grade teacher described as the institution’s heart and soul. She is a hardworking and dedicated teacher who always puts her students first. Despite her good intentions, Janine can occasionally irritate her coworkers, but everyone can see that she has a kind heart.
Quinta Brunson, the petite American actress, comedian, and writer famous for her role in Abbott Elementary, stands at the height of 4 feet 11 inches (149.9 cm) (Credit: ABC)
The character of Janine Teagues might have drawn some inspiration from Ms. Joyce Abbott, the school’s namesake and Quinta Brunson’s sixth-grade teacher.
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in February 2022, Quinta Brunson, star of Abbott Elementary, was surprised when her former teacher, Ms. Abbott, appeared on a video call, causing Brunson to get emotional and tear up at the sight of her former educator, with whom she had not spoken in years.
Ms. Abbott said that Brunson was an “awesome student” who was shy and timid when she first came to her class, but she built her confidence by challenging her students to speak in complete sentences and to work hard towards their goals.
At 33 years old, Quinta has already established herself as a talented writer and performer. She received the 2022 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the pilot episode of Abbott Elementary that she wrote.
During her opening monologue on Saturday Night Live on April 1, 2023, Quinta Brunson, the 33-year-old star of Abbott Elementary, shared the hard work it took to land her hosting gig, jokingly saying, “I just created my own TV show, made sure it became popular, won a bunch of Emmys and then got invited to host it, so much easier” before describing her show as “a network sitcom, like say Friends.”
“Except instead of being about a group of friends, it’s about a group of teachers. And instead of New York, it’s Philadelphia. And instead of not having black people, it does,” she added.
Brunson discussed her character on Abbott Elementary and advocated for teachers to be treated respectfully and receive fair pay.
Quinta Brunson in a custom Dolce & Gabbana draped gown, which was embroidered with Swarovski crystals, at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 12, 2023, in Beverly Hills, California (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)
Before landing her breakthrough role in the series, Quinta built a fan base by creating and participating in online series for Buzzfeed.
However, she became a well-known artist when she took the lead in HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show’s inaugural season.
Apart from Abbott, Quinta has appeared in several other television series, including Miracle Workers, iZombie, and Single Parents. She also appeared in the 2022 film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.
2. Lisa Ann Walter (Melissa Schemmenti) – 5ft 3 ½ in. (161.3 cm)
Lisa Ann Walter, a 5ft 3 ½ inches (161.3 cm) tall American actress and comedian, brings her talent and experience to the role of Melissa Schemmenti in the television series Abbott Elementary.
Lisa Ann Walter, the American actress, comedian, and television producer renowned for her performances in The Parent Trap and Abbott Elementary, is 5 feet 3.5 inches (161.3 cm) (Credit: ABC)
Melissa is a second-grade teacher from South Philly known for her stern and snarky attitude toward her students and coworkers.
Her amusing neighborhood ties add a unique flavor to the comedy, but her complicated family connections give the show an extra layer of drama.
Before landing the role of Melissa, the 59-year-old actress had already made a name for herself in Hollywood. She began her career in blockbuster movies and starred in several hit films before transitioning to television.
Lisa Ann Walter attended a session on her hit show Abbott Elementary during PaleyFest LA 2023 at Dolby Theatre on April 1, 2023, in Hollywood, California (Credit: Faye’s Vision / Cover Images)
One of her most well-known roles was as Chessy in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. She also co-created and starred in her own short-lived ABC comedy, Life’s Work, in 1996. In 2005, Lisa played the pivotal role of Cheryl in the War of the Worlds adaptation.
3. Sheryl Lee Ralph (Barbara Howard) – 5 ft 6 ¾ in. (170 cm)
In the show Abbott Elementary, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who stands 5ft 6 ¾ inches (170 cm), plays the role of Barbara Howard.
Barbara is a kindergarten teacher who clashes with her younger colleagues due to her traditional teaching methods and opposition to technology. Despite this, Barbara is able to mentor Janine effectively in the show.
Sheryl Lee Ralph is an American actress and singer known for her role as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls and her portrayal of Barbara Howard on the ABC mockumentary sitcom Abbott Elementary, for which she has received several awards, including the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, making her the first black woman to win the award in 35 years (Credit: ABC)
The 66-year-old has been a well-known actress and singer in the entertainment industry for several decades.
She is renowned for her historic performances, including creating the part of Deena Jones in the Broadway production of Dreamgirls, for which she received a Tony Award nomination in 1981.
Maureen J. Reidy, the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Paley Center for Media, looks taller than Sheryl Lee Ralph (Credit: Faye’s Vision / Cover Images)
In addition to her work on stage, Sheryl has appeared in numerous films and television shows.
Her previous roles include playing Florence Watson in the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and guest appearances on popular TV shows such as Wonder Woman, ER, and Criminal Minds.
4. Janelle James (Ava Coleman) – 5ft 7 in. (170.18 cm)
Janelle James, a talented black comic and 5ft 7 inches (170.18 cm) tall, brings her unique skills to the character of Ava Coleman, the ludicrously incompetent principal of Abbott Elementary School.
Although she was not widely known before her role as the series villain, Janelle plays her part perfectly, delivering a hilariously vengeful streak that could be equally annoying. Her character never misses an opportunity to disparage the hardworking educators at her school.
Janelle James is an American comedian, actress, and writer famous for her role as Ava Coleman on Abbott Elementary, for which she has won several awards and nominations, including a Black Reel Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an NAACP Image Award (Credit: ABC)
While some may compare her to Michael Scott from The Office, Janelle infuses the zany and inexperienced manager role with her distinct flair.
Janelle’s resume before Abbott Elementary was primarily focused on stand-up and sketch comedy. However, her performance as Ava Coleman opened doors for her as a guest star on other shows like the animated sitcom Tuca & Bertie.
Janelle James in an Elie Saab dress and metallic Prada shoes at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards West Coast Ceremony at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 5, 2023, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: Faye’s Vision / Cover Images)
The accomplished actress and comedian also appeared on Netflix and performed at Montreal’s prestigious Just for Laughs festival. Additionally, she has contributed writing to several acclaimed TV programs, including Corporate and Black Monday.
5. Tyler James Williams (Gregory Eddie) – 5ft 8 ½ in. (174 cm)
Tyler James Williams, who towers at 5ft 8 ½ inches tall, brings his comedic talents to the character of Gregory Eddie in Abbott Elementary, starting as a substitute first-grade teacher and eventually landing a permanent position at the school.
Despite his disappointment at not being selected for the role of a school administrator, Gregory remains committed to his students and their education.
Tyler James Williams stars as Gregory Eddie on the ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary, for which he has received critical acclaim, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Credit: ABC)
Tyler’s deadpan reactions as Gregory lend themselves perfectly to the show’s mockumentary style, drawing laughs from viewers with his subtle expressions.
The 30-year-old actor has been acting since he was a child, appearing on Saturday Night Live and various TV shows.
Tyler James Williams, who is also famous for his roles in Everybody Hates Chris and The Walking Dead, has a height of 5 feet 8.5 inches (174 cm) (Credit: Faye’s Vision / Cover Images)
However, his portrayal of Chris in the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris catapulted him to fame, earning him critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase. Tyler has also had leading roles in notable TV projects, including Disney’s Lab Rats as Leo and The Walking Dead on AMC.
6. Chris Perfetti (Jacob Hill) – 5ft 11 in. (180 cm)
Chris Perfetti is a seasoned actor known for his theater, film, and television work and is 5ft 11 inches (180 cm) tall.
In Abbott Elementary, he plays the role of Jacob Hill, a kind-hearted sixth-grade history teacher who always supports Janine’s off-beat schemes to improve the school.
Chris Perfetti is an American actor recognized for his performances as Tim Fletch in Crossbones, Brady in Looking, Ben in In the Dark, and for his role as Jacob Hill in Abbott Elementary, for which he received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination (Credit: ABC)
Despite his somewhat awkward nature, Jacob is always there to lend a hand and offer a dose of realism to Janine’s idealistic plans.
Although Chris Perfetti has appeared in numerous plays, films, and TV shows, his role in Abbott Elementary is his breakout role in a series.
The 34-year-old actor has previously appeared in Stephen Karam’s play Sons of the Prophet and the 2020 drama film Surrogate. He also guest-starred in the HBO series Looking and had a recurring role in the television show In the Dark.
Chris Perfetti in a Richard James suit paired with a Paul Smith turtleneck and Christian Louboutin shoes at the 54th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023, in Pasadena, California (Credit: Koi Sojer / Startraksphoto / Cover Images)
Chris also showed off his comedic chops as Kyle in a memorable guest role on the hit show What We Do in the Shadows.
7. William Stanford Davis (Mr. Johnson) – 5ft 11 in. (180 cm)
In Abbott Elementary, William Stanford Davis, a 5ft 11 inches (180 cm) tall actor, plays Mr. Johnson, the school’s slightly strange but unquestionably competent janitor. His humorous demeanor and conviction in conspiracy theories frequently surprise his coworkers.
Despite his eccentricities, Mr. Johnson is one of the most intelligent characters in the show, and William’s portrayal of him is spot-on.
William Stanford Davis is famous for his role as Mr. Johnson on the ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary, which earned him a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the 54th NAACP Image Awards, and his career has included minor roles on The Bold and the Beautiful and recurring roles on Ray Donovan and Swagger (Credit: ABC)
He displayed hidden potential in his performance, and it’s no surprise that his character was promoted from a guest role to a full-fledged primary cast member in season two.
The 71-year-old is a talented actor with a long list of credits in both TV and film dating back to the 1990s and has a commanding presence on screen. His stage experience as a comedian and musician likely contributed to his ability to captivate an audience.
William Stanford Davis and his shorter co-star Quinta Brunson attend the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards Performers Nominee Reception at Television Academy on September 9, 2022, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: Xavier Collin / ABACA / INSTARimages / Cover Images)
His previous roles in movies and TV series, such as in 1998’s City of Angels, Potato Pie in Ray Donovan, and Snowpiercer as Mr. Riggs, show his versatility as an actor. In addition to his acting credits, William directed a short film titled I’m Sorry Samantha in 2014.