Peacock’s recently released reboot of 1980s sitcom Punky Brewster is as a treat for the original fans as much as it is fresh material for a younger generation.
Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) is now a divorced mother of three who has a biological daughter named Hannah (Lauren Lindsey Donzis) and two adopted sons, Diego (Noah Cottrell) and Daniel (Oliver De Los Santos). Following in the footsteps of her adoptive father, Henry, Punky is now a photographer. Another new character on the show is Izzy, a spunky, defiant 7-year-old whom Punky meets at a foster care and reminds her of a younger version of herself.
Izzy is played by Fort Worth native Quinn Copeland, who, according to her mother, Katie, has been “singing [Stephen] Sondheim since she was 3 years old.” Quinn, who is now 9, got her first acting gig at the age of 5, playing Lulu in a stage production of Waitress at Bass Hall.
“I actually didn’t know that I was into acting until after Waitress,” Quinn says. “I just had so much fun, and I wanted to get to do stuff like that again.”
Her mother was a fan of the original Punky Brewster, so she helped Quinn prepare for the audition by showing her episodes of the original series. The hopeful actress wore Punky’s signature pigtails for the audition and felt immediately confident that she would land the role of Izzy.
“I did one [scene] where I fake-cried,” Quinn says. “And then they said, ‘Can you not cry?,’ so we redid it. Then, since they said that, we kind of knew we were getting a call back. I mean, if they asked us to do it twice, you can kind of see it.”
To prepare for the role, Quinn says she would try to find similarities to Izzy within herself. She came to find out that she and Izzy weren’t that much different from each other.
Although Quinn says the biggest difference between her and Izzy is the fact that they dress differently, she thinks she and the character share the same sense of humor and quick wit.
“We are through the roof with our sass,” Quinn says. “We’re just always going 'Mmm-hmm.’ I can relate to her so much with her sass.”
In the original series, Punky and her neighbors spend a lot of time in a treehouse they built outside of Henry’s apartment complex. The treehouse is still up in the reboot, but is in need of repairs. Punky eventually decides to fix up the treehouse to create a space where Izzy can play and practice TikTok dance routines.
Like many children (and adults), Copeland uses TikTok as a way to keep herself entertained.
“I love TikTok,” Copeland says. “I swear, I’ve posted a million. I can’t really decide who I really like a lot. I like Charli and Dixie D’amelio.”
The reboot makes many other references to modern technology, as it takes place in 2021. Although COVID is never mentioned in the reboot’s first season, Copeland says the pandemic affected production.
She says the pilot, which was shot before the coronavirus struck, was filmed in front of a live studio audience, but the season’s remaining episodes used a laugh track. The cast and crew would wear masks and shields on set when they weren’t filming and were tested for COVID daily.
In one episode, Punky allows Izzy to skip school to meet wrestlers Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair. Quinn is a fan of wrestling and was excited to hear the WWE superstars would make a guest appearance.
“Ever since I found out I’d be in an episode with them, me and my sister just started wrestling. We did fake wrestling, but sometimes we’d do it for real,” Quinn says, before revealing a broken tooth on the Zoom camera. “That’s how I lost this tooth.”
Although Quinn was thrilled to film with Bliss and Flair, she says the scene where she meets them was the most challenging to film.
“I think that one took like three hours,” Quinn says. “Because we had to have our stunt [doubles] come in and we had to rehearse it and film it.”
When she’s not acting, Quinn spends her time at her family’s 1920s home in Fort Worth. She also enjoys dressing up and going to tea parties, jumping on her trampoline, building Legos and reading and watching Harry Potter. One of her favorite pastimes is “casting spells” in her backyard.
True to her supernatural spirit, Quinn dreams of an acting role on Stranger Things.
“I literally finished the whole show, and I’m like, legit hyped for Season 4,” Quinn says. “I've heard it's coming out in June, and I'm flipping out. I'm just like ‘When is June?’”
The first season of the reboot ends with Punky being granted permission to become Izzy’s foster guardian, beginning the adoption process for Izzy.
While a second season is unconfirmed, Quinn says she is on board to reunite with her TV family and is anxious to see how the story continues.
“I think there's going to be Season 2,” she says. “I mean, they left us at the edge of a cliff. Like it's a cliffhanger, dude. Nobody can leave us there ... My only question about Izzy is, what’s her backstory?”
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