After 41 seasons, Saturday Night Live is about to make history by giving late-night sketch comedy its first Latina ever. Actually, it turns out MADtv already broke that barrier more than a decade ago with Jill-Michele Meleán and Anjelah Johnson, and then again this season with Michelle Ortiz.
But it is sort of a first for SNL, which has had male Latino representation with players like Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen, but only counts 1/4 Mexican Noël Wells among its list of illustrious female alums. Now we can officially bump that figure up to 1 1/4 with the addition of Whittier, CA native Melissa Villaseñor as one of three featured players making their debut in the show’s upcoming season.
Villaseñor has already been making a name for herself on the comedy circuit for ten years, and came into the national spotlight in 2011 as a finalist on season six of America’s Got Talent. Lately she’s taken her uncanny knack for impressions to Más Mejor, the Latino-centric digital comedy outlet from SNL creator Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Studios.
Her regular appearances in Más Major series like “Daily Itineraries” and “Singing Class” have allowed Villaseñor to hone her chameleonic abilities with spot-on impressions of everyone from J-Lo to Sonia Sotomayor and Owen Wilson. In addition, her voice can be heard gracing the voiceover tracks animated series like Adventure Time, Family Guy, and Trip Tank.
Of course, making it onto the SNL roster still doesn’t guarantee she’ll get much screen time, but Villaseñor certainly has enough talent to justify some heavy rotation. We’ll have to wait until SNL’s season 42 premieres on October 1 to see if the show’s producers are smart enough to let her shine.
UPDATE 9/12/16: This post has been corrected to include the name of Cuban-American comedian Jill-Michele Meleán, who was a member of the MADtv cast from 2002-2003.