Meet Melissa Villaseñor, Saturday Night Live's First Latina Cast Member

Despite Saturday Night Live’s 41-year run, its constantly rotating cast has always had a problem with diversity, especially when it comes to women. Today, NBC announced three new performers for its upcoming season, one of which is impressionist Melissa Villaseñor, who joins the show as its first ever Latina cast member.

Villaseñor rocketed into the spotlight when she appeared on season six of America’s Got Talent, doing hilarious impressions of people like Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus. More recently, the California native was a part of Màs Mejor, a Latinx comedy studio started by Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz. Now, she joins newcomers Mikey Day and Alex Moffat for season 42 of the sketch comedy series.
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For SNL, this has been a long time coming, especially since the series is often under fire for its white-male-centric casting. In 2013, Sasheer Zamata joined the show after cast member Keenan Thompson made some controversial remarks about black female performers. One year later, comedian Leslie Jones also took the stage after spending a season as a writer.

While the show’s cast has included two Latino men in its long run (Armisen and Sanz), that hasn’t shielded it from deserved criticism about its lack of Latina women. This was only exacerbated by their frequent use of non-Latina women playing Latina characters, and the appearance of Donald Trump on the show back in 2015.

Hopefully all that will change with Villaseñor’s debut on October 1st.
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