Saturday Night Live will start its 42nd season with another milestone under its belt. The late-night variety show just recently hired its first Latina cast member in newcomer Melissa Villaseñor. After the announcement of Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam’s departure, her recent hire just became all the more important.
Melissa Villaseñor first gained fame by becoming a finalist on America’s Got Talent with the help of her spot-on impressions. With a range including Barbara Walters, Natalie Portman, Miley Cyrus, Kathy Griffin and even Christina Aguilera, Villaseñor might be the perfect replacement for the popular Pharoah, but Villaseñor didn’t always aim for fame. "I didn't want to do [America’s Got Talent]. I didn't like the show. It's also scary, like, if you look bad you're going to look bad. I didn't go in with the best sort of attitude. I was cordial, but then I got the email that (was) like, 'Congrats, you're auditioning for the judges in Seattle!' And I was like, 'NO, I don't wanna go!' So that was my attitude when I walked out. I didn't psych myself out or anything. It turned out to be a really great thing - a life-changing moment."
However, Villaseñor remains passionate about comedy, even at a young age. She recalls “I did my high school talent show with a few impressions, and that was when I felt it. It went so great that I realized, this is what I am supposed to be doing, at 15 years old. It was a powerful feeling - I felt like there were flames in my chest." Now, she’ll get to entertain crowds on a whole new level and provide some much-needed diversity for the show.
Prior to Villaseñor, there have only been two other Latino performers in the shows 42-year history. These members were Fred Armisen, whose mother is from Venezuela and father is Japanese-German, and Horatio Sanz, who was born in Chile. However, Villaseñor will be the first female cast member of Latina descent in the premiere this fall. For her part, fans are already excited at the prospect with tweets reading "Thrilled by SNL's newest cast member, the first Latina in decades” and “Finally.”
Melissa Villaseñor will also join the new season with new cast members Mikey Day and Alex Moffat. Day has previously written for SNL since 2013, and Moffat wrote and performed on the Lorne Michaels-produced variety show "Maya & Marty." With the news surrounding the first Latina cast member, though, plenty of people hope that this can be the start in a new direction.