Leslie Jones rose to national prominence on Saturday Night Live, but the comedian says working on the sketch comedy show wasn’t always rewarding.
Jones, 56, discussed her time on the NBC late-night series with NPR — as she promotes her new memoir Leslie F–king Jones.
The comic joined SNL in 2014 at age 47, becoming the oldest person to be cast on the show.
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Jones told NPR she wanted to do more on SNL, but was relegated to playing a “caricature” of herself — as a loud Black woman.
“They take that one [trope] and they wring it. They wring it because that’s the machine. So whatever it is that I’m giving that they’re so happy about, they feel like it’s got to be that all the time or something like that,” she said. “So it was like a caricature of myself. … Either I’m trying to love on the white boys or beat up on the white boys, or I’m doing something loud.”
The comedian admitted she wasn’t the only cast member on the show who felt like they were pigeonholed.
“I was talking to another cast member that retired and they said, ‘But in fairness, that’s how they do all of them. Not just the Black ones,'” Jones recalled. “I look back and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s right, Taran Killam!’ Taran wanted to do so much other stuff, but they would only have Taran in those very masculine [roles] and singing and stuff and I said, “Oh! This is a machine.”
Jones left SNL in 2019 to focus on other projects. She announced she was exiting the show in a post on X/Twitter and praised SNL creator Lorne Michaels for helping her become a better performer.
“Lorne Michaels, you’ve changed my life in so many ways! Thank you for being my mentor and confidant,” she shared. “You not only have my loyalty but you have my heart too! You have shown me skills I never imagined I had. I leave a better performer because of you. To the incredible cast members: I will miss working, creating and laughing with you.”