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Tyler James Williams credits one person for getting him back on a sitcom: Quinta Brunson.

In an exclusive chat with E! News, the Abbott Elementary star shared that he wasn’t seeking another network comedy gig after his tenure on Everybody Hates Chris, in which he played the sitcom’s titular role between 2005 and 2009. Per Williams, he had “veered away” from that style of TV in recent years, instead exploring more serious roles on The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

“A lot of times with network comedies, it can get very broad,” he shared, “and, like, you’d have to pull a joke out of your ass every now and then. And that’s what I attempt to avoid.”

But, after clicking with Brunson following an appearance on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, Williams was ready to return to his sitcom roots with Abbott Elementary. “What brought me back to this was being able to trust somebody like Quinta,” he continued, “when she said, ‘We’re gonna make this as authentic and grounded as possible, where you can shine and do the work that you do well.'”

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