SNL Hires Melissa Villaseñor, Its First Latina Cast Member


SNL has hired Melissa Villaseñor, a comedian who made waves on America’s Got Talent with her impressions of Barbara Walters, Christina Aguilera, and Natalie Portman.

This is a big deal because Villaseñor would be the first Latina woman in the show’s history.

The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrew notes the long history of criticism of the variety show for lack of diversity, adding that ever since the decision (which we at Flavorwire heavily criticized) to allow Donald Trump to host, the show has been in conversation with Latino leaders, and this hire may be partly due to that outreach effort.

Following the episode hosted by Donald Trump last year, SNL producer Lindsay Shookus and the co-head writer Rob Klein met with several Latino leaders at the headquarters of the National Council of La Raza, a Washington, D.C.-based Latino advocacy group, L.A. Weekly reported. The meeting included La Raza President Janet Murguia, Sanchez, and Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Many present were angry that SNL put the spotlight on Trump after denigrating Mexicans as “rapists” and “drug dealers.”

And there’s a nice bit of continuity here, too, notes the Post:

SNL has only featured two Latino performers — Fred Armisen, whose mother is from Venezuela and father is Japanese-German, and Horatio Sanz, who was born in Chile. In fact, those two created Más Mejor, an online comedy studio whose mission is to “cultivate Latino comedic talent.” It’s owned by the Lorne Michaels-founded Broadway Video and airs a recurring series titled “Daily Itineraries,” which features Villaseñor portraying a day in the life of the various celebrities she impersonates.