‘Abbott Elementary’ Writer Brittani Nichols On Bringing Community Care To Television

The screenwriter gives a preview into the upcoming episode “The Principal’s Office” and reveals how the writers room reacted to the show’s Emmy wins.

Despite her love for series such as “Community,” “30 Rock,” “Happy Endings” and “Parks and Recreation,” Chicago native Brittani Nichols never anticipated moving out to Los Angeles to work in television, let alone setting foot in a writers room.

“I will say that I didn’t think that working on a network comedy was going to be possible,” said Nichols. “When I first moved to LA, my goal was to work for a network comedy. When I first moved here, I was very aware, like: ‘Oh, right. There are not a lot of people like me in those rooms.’”

Only after finding “Abbott Elementary” did Nichols think that network television had space for her. As a Black genderqueer lesbian, the throughline in her work is an attempt to create more depictions of people like herself in media for “different Black women, all sorts of different Black people, all sorts of different queer people,” she said.

A resident of Los Angeles since 2011 and a community organizer, Nichols has been careful and deliberate when choosing projects. Her resume is vast and extensive, starting out as a production assistant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” for a season; dabbling in standup, sketch comedy and improvisation; collaborating with “Insecure” creator Issa Rae on the web series “Words With Girls”; and writing on scripted and variety shows such as Robin Thede’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”

Now, the “Abbott Elementary” writer is finding her voice in the ABC series’ second season, which premiered Sept. 21. Ahead of the season’s fourth episode, set to air Wednesday, Nichols talked to HuffPost about her journey through the industry and how she incorporates the tenets she learned from community organizing into her storytelling.

Since the show won multiple Emmys last month, has the writers room felt a sense of pressure to deliver a strong second season? What were the reactions following the wins?