ProCon hosts virtual night with Melissa Villasenor
Caitlin O’Halloran – Conrtibutor
Comedian, actress and Saturday Night Live cast member Melissa VIllaseñor was part of a live Q+A hosted by SCSU’s Programs Council on Feb. 24.
The Q+A was hosted by Madison Ross from East Tennessee State University and Victoria Amador. It was put together by Central Connecticut State University, University of New Haven and Eastern Connecticut State University.
Melissa Villaseñor has made many milestones in her career, one big one that she is the first-ever Latina cast member on SNL.
“Tomorrow, we start rehearsing and do rewrites and see how to make the sketch funnier,” said Villaseñor in the live event, “Friday, we rehearse more sketches. Sometimes we film those pre-tape sketches, the ones that aren’t alive. That happens on Friday. Three different film units and three pre-tapes that we film all on Friday on top of every rehearsal in the studio.”
Villaseñor started off on “America’s Got Talent” 10 years ago where she became a semifinalist, then began doing voice work for cartoons such as Adventure Time, Family Guy and TripTank. Then in 2016, Villaseñor joined the 42nd season of Saturday Night Live.
On “America’s Got Talent,” she made it to the finals with a series of celebrity impressions including Miley Cyrus, Natalie Portman, Barbara Walters and Kathy Griffin. Her audition ended in a standing ovation.
One question throughout the live that came from East Tennessee State University was “was it difficult rising to the top while being a female comedian?”
“I think it was difficult when I thought about it,” said Villaseñor “When I wasn’t thinking about it, I felt like the more I just had fun and focused on like, creating whatever brought me joy. That is how I kept moving.”
When asked about one of the impressions she is most fond of, Villaseñor said she loved her Dolly Parton skit that she got to play on one episode of SNL. In the Dec. 12 episode, cast member Colin Jost made a comment about how active she’s been in trying to get her Dolly Parton impression in an episode.
“I love watching SNL because the characters are always so funny and the skits they do about relevant topics are always great to watch,” said marketing major Gavin Scully, a senior. “I’m upset that I missed the Q+A she had. I feel like I would’ve gotten some more insight as to where her inspiration comes from.”
When asked who she would wish to have dinner with, living or dead, Villaseñor answered that when she was a child, it would be Jim Carrey all the way. Then when she began watching SNL, she said that Dave Carvey left a big impression, and when she was 12 years-old, she figured out she could do his singing impressions from SNL.
When growing up, Villaseñor said that Dave Carvey and Jimmy Fallon had the biggest influence on her in wanting to do what she does now.
“I know they are dudes but look there are a lot of gals I looked up to as well. Gilda Radner, there are so many.”
Villaseñor stated that one of the upcoming projects she is working on is a book. It will include drawings, activities and stories and will include personal things such as what it takes for her to get into the “silly, joyful, weirdo” character within herself.
“Are there any tips or advice you would put towards female comedians who aspire to be in the business?” asked Ross.
“Finding a group of pals was really important. That felt like – it becomes a family of comedians, brother and sister, you feel safe with that certain group. I think it’s important to make your friends and always be professional, kind and work hard,” said Villaseñor.