Emerson Alumni: They Went Here?

Anyone who attends Emerson is probably well-accustomed to hearing about the different celebrity alumni that have walked the school’s hallowed halls (although Emerson has changed campus locations numerous times over the years). Yes, Emerson loves to talk about its Emerson Mafia. Of course, an impressive list of alumni is something for the college to be proud of. It’s nice to know, after all, that a good amount of people who have attended and graduated from Emerson have gone on to do incredible things.

At Emerson, there are few alumni that you are most likely to remember. For our parents, we have actor Henry Winkler ‘67, best known for his role as the Fonz on Happy Days. Another well-known alumnus is comedian and television host, Jay Leno ‘73. Funnily enough, Leno graduated with a degree in speech therapy, though he went on to perform as a comedian. And have you ever heard of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics? Bobbi Brown graduated from Emerson in 1979. She has since built an impressive makeup empire, clearly. But the list of notable Emerson alumni goes on. For a more extensive list of alumni, check out this list from Emerson’s website.

However, there are a few other alumni that may come as a surprise to you.

Do you remember reading “The Clique” novels in middle school? I know I do. If you don’t remember “The Clique” book series, I’ll summarize it briefly for you. It basically details the life of Massie Block, a very wealthy and privileged teenage girl and her ‘clique’. 21 novels in total have been released in the series, all of them written by Lisi Harrison, an Emerson graduate. Harrison transferred to Emerson after spending two years at McGill University in Montreal. She realized that writing was her true passion, and she found Emerson to be the right fit. Harrison graduated in 1985 with a BFA in Creative Writing.

Paul Dini
Paul Dini

As a longtime superhero fan, there is another lesser-known Emerson alumnus that has always impressed me, due to his work within the Batman franchise. Paul Dini ‘79 graduated from Emerson with a BFA in Creative Writing. He is best known for his work on Batman: the Animated Series as both a producer and writer. Together with his co-writer Bruce Timm, Dini created the now-iconic villain, Harley Quinn. They debuted Harley Quinn in the Batman episode “Mad Love” and later adapted her into the comic series. Dini has had a long and impressive career in the entertainment industry. Recently, he began working with Marvel, after two decades of work on DC projects.

And earlier this year, two Emerson alums made headlines with the release of their film, Swiss Army Man starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Known as the “Daniels”, Daniel Kwan ’10 and Daniel Scheinert ’09 wrote and directed the film together. Though I won’t describe the plot of the film in too much detail, all you have to know is that Radcliffe portrays a semi-animated corpse.

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, credit: A24

It’s true what they told you when you first toured Emerson: the Emerson Mafia really is everywhere. Not only are they here in Boston, but they are spread from New York to DC to LA and more. And regardless what you might think of a specific alumnus’ accomplishments, it’s at least fun knowing they went here.

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