Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 57° Partly Cloudy

Everything’s connecting right now for ‘SNL’s’ Melissa Villaseñor

When Melissa Villaseñor joined “Saturday Night Live” in 2016, she became its first Latina cast member. (NBC / NBC)
When Melissa Villaseñor joined “Saturday Night Live” in 2016, she became its first Latina cast member. (NBC / NBC)
By Thomas Floyd The Washington Post

Growing up, Melissa Villaseñor was, in her words, “the shy kid.” Finding her own voice at an all-girls Catholic high school in Southern California proved tricky, so she tried borrowing some others.

“All of the girls just found me so funny,” Villaseñor says with a touch of faux bravado. “It felt very exciting to find something that made me feel powerful and unique.”

After working the L.A. open-mic circuit in her early 20s, Villaseñor broke through with a deep run on “America’s Got Talent” in 2011. Five years later, she landed a job on “Saturday Night Live” – becoming the first Latina cast member in the show’s four-decade history.

Q. What appeals to you about stand-up in contrast to sketch comedy?

A. I can open up my heart and connect with people in the crowd. It’s that connection, the human connection – that’s the best.

Q. How would you describe your style onstage?

A. Dorky comedy, clean comedy, family-oriented, nerdy, a lot of references to celebrities and music. I’d say it’s a colorful set because I talk about my life. Some of my bits are dark, but they’re all silly.

Q. How much did becoming “SNL’s” first Latina cast member resonate with you?

A. It never crossed my mind. Once everyone was saying, “Oh, the first Latina,” I thought, “That’s really awesome.” I felt very proud, but I don’t pressure myself.

Q. Do you address the political climate in your set?

A. Never. It’s not funny to me, and it doesn’t make me laugh. It makes me confused and it gives me headaches.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.