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Sheryl Lee Ralph, Janelle James say cast of ‘Abbott Elementary’ was handpicked by creator Quinta Brunson



Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James of the hit ABC comedy sitcom Abbott Elementary joined Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts and T.J. Holmes Tuesday morning to chat about the show’s upcoming second season. In addition to revealing why they wanted to join the breakout series, the stars say one of the “easy” parts of being on the show is working alongside the special ensemble cast. 

“We all just came right together,” Ralph said, speaking of the group of stars, which includes show creator Quinta Brunson and actors Tyler James WilliamsLisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti.

“I really think that a lot of that has to do with Quinta,” she said. “Quinta really handpicked each one of us and put this cast together.”

James agrees. She shared her thought that each character is relatable, even hers — the antagonist school principal, Ava Coleman. 

“Everybody’s had that boss, where you get to that level and you’re just like, ‘How did you get this job?’ So it like reaffirms, like, ‘Oh, I’m not crazy. These people exist,'” James said.

On how she became apart of the popular series, James says it was the compelling script, as well as the “hilarious” pilot that drew her in. And while she did audition for her role, the comedian joked that she’d “clean up in the background if that’s what needs to happen.”

As for Ralph, the 65-year-old actress — who also vied for the role of Principal Coleman — says she realized how special the show would be during a moment shared with James Williams while taping the pilot episode.  

“We both looked at each other and we were like, ‘Whoa, something is really happening here.'”

Ralph described that moment as someone “stirring a pot of magic.”

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