‘Saturday Night Live’ Star Ego Nwodim Talks Best Of Season 48 – IndieWire

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“Saturday Night Live” cast member Ego Nwodim compared the last season of the NBC late-night show to his senior year.

“I felt like there was some leeway with the writers and cast because of the exodus (after season 47), but the new cast also brought incredible new energy, perspectives and points of view. view,” the sketch comedy star told IndieWire over Zoom. “They’ve been a lot of fun to work with this season and their freshness has been a factor in everything this season.”

Nwodim said part of the appeal of working on a show that spans five seasons is that “you’re in this place where it’s going to be comfortable, but it’s always going to be challenging. And that’s a very remarkable combination to find anywhere.” Her patience as she became a repertory player on “Saturday Night Live” paid off in a breakout season that even put her “Lisa From Temecula” sketch on the radar of Emmy voters.


Camila Morrone (Camila)

Buoyed by the response to season 48, Nwodim is looking forward to keeping the momentum going when the show eventually returns. “It takes that kind of time and care and dedication and persistence to get to a place where you’re only superficially comfortable on the show,” the actress said. “So once you’re completely comfortable, you say, ‘I’ve worked for this, and this audience knows me, and I really know this. Why don’t you stay in a place where I feel like these things are just a little bit longer? Because I know that this path was not easy and was not without its obstacles and difficulties.”

But before the show returns, Nwodim enters Emmy season as a contender for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — a category she’s won twice over colleagues like Kate McKinnon. “It feels good to say, Oh, I’m older now and I’m starting to play and show some of what I have to offer. And people recognize it and are excited about it,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a very grateful and empowering feeling. So I’m grateful for all of that.”

Below, Nwodim reflects on four standout sketches from “Saturday Night Live” season 48.

“Lisa from Temecula”


The “SNL” live show often works like “what you think is going to kill you, doesn’t kill you, and whatever you think is, ‘Eh,’ kills you,” Nwodim said. Even though he knew his sketch about a wild-card dinner guest with a very special preference for steak would get laughs this week, Nwodim never could have predicted the life the play would take. “All I could do was have fun with it. It’s like the only thing I’m in control of, so I try to keep that in mind when I’m performing,” she said. “I’m so grateful that we didn’t know that this sketch was going to go in, because it made me want to be so deeply present in it and embody this character in a way that maybe I wouldn’t be if I was. Okay, we’re up early and we know we’re excited about it. It will be fine.”

Originally appearing in the Pedro Pascal-directed February episode, Lisa from Temecula was one of the increasingly rare recurring sketch characters and made a bold return for the Ana de Armas-hosted finale. Nwodim explained that the challenge of creating sketch characters that can continue to be used in the series is to ensure that viewers always have access to that first sketch that captured unparalleled live TV magic.

“When you do a recurring character, people say, ‘I can revisit the original and compare the original to the recurring piece,’ and say, ‘Oh, the original is better,’ which is totally valid,” he said. “It’s the first time you see something, all the elements of surprise are there and waiting for you. When we did Lisa as a recurring character, one of the writers said, “Hey, let’s understand that we’re not trying to beat the first one, because it was, frankly, magic.” And so now it’s just like, “Where else do we want to see this character? What else do we want to see this character do? And I think we achieved that. And now I’m thinking, ‘Where else can Lisa go? Take it out of restaurants. What else are you doing?’”

Nwodim added: “I want to play big, dumb and stupid more and I hope I can do that. And “Lisa from Temecula” was just the beginning of her doing that on the show. So I’m really excited, there’s going to be more in this world.”



“It was a sitcom,” Nwodim joked of the sketch she wrote with the Please Don’t Destroy boys, where she plays an upset Mrs. Shaw who “Shaw’s already asleep” but has to exorcise a demon. her teenage neighbor (played by host Jenna Ortega) for the first time. “I love playing loud, angry, disruptive characters,” she said. “What I’m saying is that strong and flawed characters just get a certainty about them that you can’t even wrap your head around, you can’t tell them a damn thing.” These characters are often elderly because they are the people who have ‘lived a little of life and thus feel they have earned the right to live in the box they are in and to demand what they demand and not really take taking into account the experiences of others,” said Nwodim.

The “SNL” star particularly enjoyed this sketch because “it’s weird that the voice of reason is possessed by demons.” Part of the appeal of “Saturday Night Live” hosting talent is to showcase parts of their comedic repertoire that haven’t been seen before, and Ortega’s wonderfully demonic performance is the perfect example of that. “Ma’am. Shaw doesn’t shine if the demon possessed doesn’t really sell his possessions,” Nwodim said with a laugh. “So you have to give it up to Jenna Ortega for really selling it and making it believable and setting up Mrs. Shaw’s appearance.”

“Weekend Update: Black Ariel in Disney’s Live-Action The Little Mermaid Remake”


Given how similar the experience is to what the cast had to do during their “SNL” auditions, spending minutes on stage in front of producers doing stand-up or performing in character, “Weekend Update” is even more of a safe bet. a place where the characters can shine. “It’s an opportunity to sketch out things that might be harder to do, and that’s the only way to get your jokes out there,” Nwodim said. And (hosts) Michael (Che) and Colin (Jost) make it so entertaining. Just their reactions are there, there is such a good energy that we beat our stupidity. And I also want to see these Update pieces do well as well, so they’re very helpful in that regard.”

Nwodim’s turn as a badass version of Halle Bailey’s Ariel in an October episode of “SNL,” hosted by Brendan Gleeson, “was born out of me saying, ‘What if this person that we’ve decided is a hero doesn’t look the way we want it to look? to watch our hero? What if our hero isn’t who we think he is? And it’s a fictional character, so we can make up a whole story for Ariel. What if this is the story?”

The Update piece is a hilarious, interesting commentary on the representation of a show that not too long ago held a special casting call to remedy the lack of actors to play Michelle Obama. Almost a decade later, Nwodim said, “the cast is more reflective of the real world than it probably ever was. And that happens every year on the show, the show evolves and our cast and writers reflect the world more and more as the year goes on. It’s a process.”

He added: “There’s an opportunity right now to step outside the box and say, ‘Great, we know this person can play Andrew Yang, and we know this person can play Michelle Obama, but what else can it do? the person. do?’ They’re not just coming in to fill these characters that are part of the zeitgeist, we’re going to need someone to play them. It’s more like the show brought us up because they recognized that we were talented.”

“The Black Lotus”


Nwodim’s idea for his parody of “The White Lotus” came from a place of fandom. “I watched the whole thing. I was so devoted to him. I feel like I’m dressed for the finale in my little apartment and we’ve had a spritz of Aperol. I was like, “I’m in Italy too,” said the actress.

“Saturday Night Live” has produced almost 50 years of parody, so Nwodim’s job in “The Black Lotus” was to recognize the iconic moments of Mike White’s Emmy-winning HBO play and show them off. a new lens. Lines like “She’s gonna kill him” are “what I’m saying right now from my couch at home in these scenes (from the show). And it was literally, “What if you put a black person in this?” Tricks abound at the moment, I feel someone needs to take note,” said Nwodim.

The sketch was another opportunity to crack jokes about “SNL” veteran Kenan Thompson. “You feel so safe, relaxed, free and at ease when you perform with Kenan. He is an incredible talent to watch and learn from, but as a scene partner, he strives to really take care of his scene partners and come off as a comedic genius,” said Nwodim. “It’s been a lot of fun playing him this season and we’ve had a lot more opportunities to do that. It feels so relaxed and familiar and free, and I love doing it.”

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