Photos of Melissa Villaseñor & Alex Moffat by USA Network/Andrew H. Walker
After confirming late last month a number of returning cast members for the upcoming 42nd season, Saturday Night Live has added three new featured players.
The newcomers are Mikey Day, a SNL writer who appeared on-camera for NBC’s summer variety series Maya & Marty; Alex Moffat, a Chicago native who co-starred in last year's SXSW favorite Uncle John and taught improv at Second City; and Melissa Villaseñor, a comedian whose impressions include Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.
Villaseñor's casting is particularly interesting, because as a Mexican-American, she'll be the first Hispanic female player in SNL's 41-year history. Chilean native Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen—who is half-Venezuelan—are the show's only previous Latino actors.
RELATED: Why We Need More Hispanics on TV
SNL drew criticism last fall when reality-show-star-turned-presidential-candidate Donald Trump hosted the show, with Hispanic organizations slamming the appearance despite his "bigoted comments about Mexican immigrants."
As we previously mentioned, Hispanics are largely underrepresented on network and cable television, despite making up more than 17% of the U.S. population, with 54 million as of 2013—up from 37 million in 2001.
A rep for NBC subsequently notes the network considers Villaseñor the second player "of Latina descent," likely nodding to former one-season cast member Noël Wells, who is said to have a grandparent of Hispanic heritage, although the former would be the first actress identifying as a Latina. In the past, the show has been criticized for having the likes of Maya Rudolph and Cecily Strong portray stereotypical Hispanic characters with faux accents.
The upcoming season, which will premiere on Oct. 1, will mark yet another time of transition for Saturday Night Live, following the abrupt departures of longtime players Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah.