Profile: Nerissa Williams-Scott


Nerissa Williams-Scott has been the assistant manager of the Paramount Center Film Soundstage since the Paramount Center opened seven years ago. During the academic year, one of her main responsibilities is to be a resource for the Visual and Media Arts (VMA) students who work on school assignments in the space. The soundstage’s equipment cage contains 5,000 pieces of lighting, sound, and camera equipment.

In addition to fielding questions from students using the soundstage, she teaches and mentors students. Each semester, she teaches a five-session “bootcamp” for all undergrad students enrolled in the Basic Cinematography course. Students must pass the bootcamp in order to have permission to use the sound stage unsupervised by faculty. She also teaches a production management workshop for VMA graduate students. A 2015 graduate of Emerson’s MFA in Visual and Media Art program herself, she is a perfect advisor for graduate students as well.

At the beginning of each new fiscal year, Williams-Scott is in charge of facilitating the induction of  new gear into the vast Sound Stage inventory for the upcoming academic year. She also procures furniture and props for production design. This summer, she will be working on revamping the soundstage’s online system for checking out equipment, Web Checkout. To help students learn the “lingo” that professionals use, she will be updating the itemized equipment list in the system, which currently uses technical terms. For example, professionals use the term “1K Baby” instead of “1000 watt Fresnel unit.”

Williams-Scott said the best thing about her job is working with the students. She enjoys being a sounding board for them and advising them about the field. She has organically become an advisor for members of a student organization as well as international students.

Before arriving at Emerson, Williams-Scott lived and worked in a number of places. She grew up in Texas and spent her teen years in the Boston area. She attended Hampton University in Virginia and graduated with a degree in fine and performing arts and a minor in lighting.

She moved back to Boston briefly before heading to Los Angeles for eight years, where she tried the acting thing and learned more about lighting through her work in stage management for live theater. She also did production work in the television and film industries.

From Los Angeles, she eventually came back to Boston, getting a job at High Output, a stage lighting rental house in Canton, Massachusetts. She was the department manager in charge of units rentals for a year and a half before acquiring the job at Emerson.

Williams-Scott enjoys filmmaking in her spare time. Her current project is producing the thesis film of an Emerson MFA student next spring. She also enjoys making short documentaries. She produced the film Escapement, directed by fellow staffer and alumnus Jae Williams, which has been accepted to a number of film festivals.

Williams-Scott married her husband, Algernon, last year. Refreshingly, he is not in the filmmaking business, she noted.

Nancy Howell (Creative Services)