There’s reattach a person’s spinal cord pressure, throwing out the first pitch on opening day pressure, and then there’s being the first African-American woman to carry the legacy of a century’s old comedy institution pressure. Guess which one Alexis Wilkinson knows first hand? Alexis is a Harvard University junior and President of The Harvard Lampoon, a historic parody/satire comedy magazine founded in 1876 and responsible for launching the careers of comedy heavy weights such as Conan O’Brien, B.J Novak, and Andy Borowitz (not to mention spinning off a successful franchise of movies such as National Lampoon’s Vacation and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). Alexis manages the responsibility, stress, and national scrutiny that comes with being a woman breaking barriers in the comedy industry with grace, strength, and more than her share of wit and moxie. Despite the enormous task of producing the magazine and caring for its legacy, Alexis admits that she finds her actual job very satisfying. She sums up her feelings about walking the path of a comedy writer: “Getting paid to write is huge. That someone would pay you to write the words on the page? Crazy!”
Photo by Ryan Pfluger of New York Magazine
If you could describe yourself in one hashtag, what would it be?
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My little sister. She's like me with all the bad bits cut out. She's a perfect person, in the best way possible. I take credit for how great she is. Sorry Mom, but I built that girl in my image.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
To continue to learn and become a better writer. To make people laugh. To tell stories. I try not to get more specific than that.
What are you most proud of?
I once caught a fly in midair. It was pretty cool. Everyone said so.
What piece of advice changed your life?
I was complaining to an academic advisor of mine freshman year about how scared I was of failure. She said, “You've already gotten this far. Why would you fail now?” Now I always try to remind myself what I've already accomplished and what obstacles I've surmounted. It makes everything else seem easy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully writing for a TV show or making my movie.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
All of my big goals have to do with my afterlife so I can't really answer this question. I would, however, like to be reincarnated as a really nice armchair or King Charlemagne.
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
My mother. She's a person who's not afraid to take charge or rustle a few jimmies to get what she wants. She taught me that.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
Deciding to come to Harvard felt like a big risk. I'm not from the east coast. No one else from my high school was going. I had never met anyone who graduated. But by deciding to do it, I learned that none of those things matter. You can make a home wherever you go.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
I have a bad habit of showing up uninvited to things. If you're asking, “Who's THAT GIRL?” It's probably me, standing in a corner, eating all your pigs in a blanket.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor