One week, she was going to class, doing homework, reading textbooks and stressing about finals; the next week, she learned she would be on television with Jon Stewart.
Cal State Long Beach film and electronic arts alumna, Jessica Williams, is a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” – the youngest one on set and the first black female correspondent on the show.
The politically driven comedy program features fake and real news.
In 2011, Williams auditioned for the show during one of the most stressful times for most students: the week before finals.
“In class we watched ‘The Daily Show,'” Williams said. “I never would have thought that a few weeks later I would be on it.”
Williams managed to make it through her finals, despite being distracted with the life-changing news.
After finishing her finals, Williams said she realized that living in “The Big Apple” would be a large step from her hometown, Torrance, Calif.
She moved to New York, leaving her studies at CSULB behind in December 2011 to begin her fulltime job in acting, writing and searching for new material. Williams left before she could finish her degree but said she hopes to return to CSULB someday.
“I already miss college,” Williams said. “I already miss Cal State Long Beach, and it will feel good to go back to school. My parents worked really hard for me to go college, and I would like to finish.”
Williams said her general education classes and mentors in the film and electronic arts department at CSULB prepared her for her job on “The Daily Show.”
“People complain about GE classes, but I explored so many aspects of what I am capable of doing,” Williams said. “[The classes] showed me that I want to do comedy, and I want to write.”
Williams said one of her most supportive mentors is film and electronic arts professor Tom Blomquist.
“I met [Williams] in a large lecture hall class where she managed to stand out in a room of 150 students,” Blomquist said. “Her attentiveness and personality literally jumped out of the crowd.”
Williams’ go-getter attitude and talent are traits that made her successful, Blomquist said.
“I was impressed with her determination to succeed, as well as what I perceived to be her natural gifts as a writer and performer,” Blomquist said.
He said the film and electronic arts department is proud to have had her.
“There’s a certain scrappy ‘can do’ spirit to the film and electronic arts department that seems to drive everyone to enviable heights,” Blomquist said. “I am continuously amazed by the quality of work that our students do.”
Now living in a city drowned in sounds of traffic and the hustle of everyday life, Williams said she just wants to focus on herself and her writing.
“I am learning my voice,” Williams said. “That’s what I am focusing on. I want to write and star in my work.”