You could say that for Alyssa DeVries ’21, finding out she won a scholarship from the people who award the Emmys was a roller coaster of emotion.
You could say that, but it would be a cheap, lame joke, because the Comedic Arts major was literally waiting to get on a roller coaster when she got the call from National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Foundation Vice President Adam Sharp telling her she won the Trustees Scholarship.
“I took the call while I was in line… It was moving slow, so I thought it would be O.K.,” DeVries said. “We hung up right before we started going, so it actually was perfect timing.”
The Trustees Scholarship is $10,000, funded by the NATAS trustees “in recognition of overall potential as a future leader in the television industry.” NATAS also awarded high school students with the Mike Wallace Memorial Scholarship, the Jim McKay Memorial Scholarship, the Randy Falco Scholarship, and the Douglas Mummert Scholarship.
The award is not only helping DeVries attend her first-choice college, but it’s also giving her access to people who are themselves TV industry leaders, many of whom were NATAS scholarship winners themselves back in the day.
“By investing in the great talents of the future, we reaffirm the standard of creative achievement reflected in the Emmy and the lasting legacy of two great practitioners of our craft,” Sharp said in a statement. “The scholarships mark an unbroken line of excellence connecting two generations of broadcasters.”
Sharp won the Trustees Scholarship in 1996. He was telling DeVries all about it when he called to let her know she won, including what a good and conscientious student he was, according to DeVries. Meanwhile, she was blowing off classes at Sea World in San Diego for “Senior Ditch Day.”
“I wasn’t much for breaking rules in high school at all,” DeVries said. “But it’s a tradition.”
DeVries was invited to NATAS’ board meeting in June to be recognized with four other scholarship winners, but she couldn’t make it – it was her high school graduation. So she went to a board meeting in Philadelphia last month, where she hobnobbed with TV execs on a riverboat cruise, absorbed their advice, and came away with an invitation to present a Pacific Southwest Emmy next June.
“Everyone was so interesting and knowledgeable,” she said.
In her first semester at Emerson, DeVries is taking two comedy classes: Evolution of Comedy with Artist-in-Residence Matt McMahan, and Why Did the Chicken? Fundamentals in Comedic Storytelling with Senior Affiliated Faculty member Michael Bent.
She said she considers herself primarily a performer, and did a lot of improv in high school, so writing has always made her “a little nervous,” but at Emerson, she’s deepening her repertoire.
“They really encourage us to try everything to do with comedy,” she said. “I’ve started doing standup a bit, which is scary, but I’m going to keep doing it.”
In her application for the NATAS scholarship, DeVries had to submit two essays. One asked applicants to write about a TV show that inspired them (“So I wrote about America’s Top Model.”) and the other asked them to talk about their aspirations. DeVries described bribing her mother to let her stay up and watch Saturday Night Live with foot rubs.
For now anyway, DeVries said she’d like to model her career after Jimmy Fallon: a stint on SNL followed by her own late-night talk show. But in the Emerson spirit, she’s leaving her options open.
“I just really love comedy and want to be a part of it in any way,” she said.