For the first time, two Emerson Los Angeles (ELA) students had the opportunity to intern for comedian and actress Jade Catta-Preta ’07. During the Fall 2021 semester, Alyssa DeVries ’21 and Sarah Manners ’21 helped edit, film, and assist Catta-Preta with her podcast, Jaded.
“It’s nice to use my resources to teach other people,” said Catta-Preta, who hosted the reboot of the iconic E! Network show The Soup, and will soon be seen on Hulu’s brand-new dating show, Hotties.
Getting the opportunity to learn from a working comic like Catta-Preta proved valuable to both DeVries and Manners, who have their own aspirations surrounding comedy. DeVries, a Comedic Arts major, is a member of the TikTok Creator Fund, where she makes money with her original comedy content for over 46,000 followers. A student of The Groundlings, she won a 2017–2018 Trustees’ Scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of her “overall potential as a future leader in the television industry.”
Manners is an aspiring comedy writer.
“I’ve wanted to work at SNL since I was 2 and write there since I was 9,” said Manners, a Visual and Media Arts (VMA) major who’s minoring in Comedy Writing and Performance.
For Catta-Preta, being able to offer students a comedy internship was an experience she wanted when she was a student. She called the Academics Department at Emerson LA one day seeking interns, and hired DeVries and Manners for the semester.
“When they joined on, I was feeling a little bit uninspired and a little bit overwhelmed, and it’s been nice to have a fresh perspective on stuff I’m doing and I’ve learned a lot from them,” said Catta-Preta.
Manners has been working on editing and filming videos, such as Catta-Preta’s very own SNL audition tape.
“Alyssa and I write a lot of jokes, then run them by Jade, and the three of us workshop them together,” said Manners.
Catta-Preta insisted on showing her interns the ins-and-outs of the industry.
“Our business can be a bit savage, so hopefully I taught them how to find friends within this business and that they have me and can always come to me as a resource,” said Catta-Preta. “I think they learn vicariously through my opportunities and rejections.”
Even more than the practical knowledge they’ve obtained from working with Catta-Preta, both interns also gained in-person experience with comedy.
“It is cool to see how the comedy community is … outside of college. And just interact with people who are actually working,” said DeVries.
“She’s taught me to pretend to be confident around people,” Manners added. “Also, not to be self-deprecating in my stand-up if I’m starting out. Being a woman in stand-up and self-deprecating before you’re a big name doesn’t get you far.”
There was lots of emphasis on being a successful female in an industry that is dominated so heavily by men.
“I think the whole time at ELA, I was afraid that people in Hollywood would be scary because that’s what everybody says,” said DeVries. “But a lot of the people I met have been really kind and really willing to help, especially Emerson alumni.”
Learning how to socialize and maneuver the industry was an important lesson. However, it wasn’t the only one that Manners or DeVries acquired. Catta-Preta put heavy emphasis on how hard it is to be successful in the industry, the business aspects, and the amount of work needed to make it.
“Perseverance. You get knocked down on a daily basis and it’s just about continuing to do it, and it’s not an easy profession,” said Catta-Preta. “You constantly have to remind yourself that you’re good, even though there’s a lot of rejection within the profession. Your goals grow as you continue to grow.”
Manners said that Catta-Preta put an emphasis on helping her open up and network more with others in the industry.
“I’m very awkward, so she [was] trying super hard to help me,” said Manners, who got to perform a set for her fellow students, along with DeVries, during a stand-up night at ELA.
“I think that no matter how the performance goes, there’s something you can learn from it every time,” said DeVries.
One of the cool opportunities DeVries had was opening for Catta-Preta during a stand-up performance in her home city of San Diego in front of friends and family.
“It was fun to get to try some of my material that I worked on with Jade and be on a line-up with professional comics,” said DeVries.
“I’m trying to really push them to get some experience under the belt like open mics and stand-up,” said Catta-Preta.
That push for more experience is something both interns have appreciated.
“My only stand-up experience before this semester was over Zoom, so I’ve started doing that [more] in person,” said Manners, who also had the opportunity to open for Catta-Preta.
“I really respect Jade a lot and admire her as a person and a comedian,” said DeVries, who recounted a story about going to the famed LA comedy club The Comedy Store with Catta-Preta. “If you go outside of the Store, on the building, you can see people’s names, like famous comedians, and I got to see her name there, which was so fun.”
DeVries says she hopes to see her name on the building someday as well.
While Catta-Preta is sad to see DeVries and Manners go now that the Fall 2021 semester has wrapped up, she is looking forward to her next set of interns in the upcoming semester.
“I’m just so psyched that I got the chance to do this, and hopefully I can continue to do it and I can help raise a whole squad of great females coming into this industry,” said Catta-Preta.