Alexis Wilkinson is living history. As the first African-American to grace the helm of the “Harvard Lampoon” since its creation in 1876, the junior has sparked even more conversation about diversity in an industry both African-Americans and women have struggled to break into.
The staff of the ivy league’s iconic humor publication boasts an impressive list of alumni who have gone on to make their mark in comedy, including Conan O’Brien, Andy Borowitz and B.J. Novak. But since its founding in 1876, the magazine has never had a Black president—until Wilkinson arrived.
The Milwaukee native and economics major credited her family and upbringing for both inspiring her humor and catapulting her to the helm of the historic university’s iconic publication.
“I have a whole family full of very loud, funny women,” she said.
Wilkinson’s achievement comes at a time when many are criticizing the media industry for its lack of diversity. After coming under fire, “Saturday Night Live” recently added comedian Sasheer Zamata to their on screen staff, and also added two Black females to their staff of writers – a facet of the industry Wilkinson said less people pay attention to, but one she hopes to address in the future.
“As a writer, I think we pay a lot of attention to the performative aspect of comedy,” she said during an interview with NPR. “But as far as the number of performers go, there’s way more gender and race equality in performance of comedy than there has ever been in writing. Like, no one is paying attention to the fact that, like, there are absolutely, like, no people of color writing for – and, like, shows – a lot of shows that are predominately Black don’t have any writers of color in the writers room. And to me, that’s insane, like, it’s 2013. And so those are sort of things that I get more riled up about.”