Melissa Villasenor has found herself amidst controversy, one that could lead the 28-year-old comedian to be fired from Saturday Night Live before she even has a chance to start.
Villasenor was announced earlier this month as a ground-breaking addition to the late-night sketch comedy show, the first Latina cast member in the show’s history. There have been only two Latino cast members to date — Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen — and Villasenor’s hire earned praise for the show.
Villasenor came in with a strong reputation as the popular impressionist from the sixth season of America’s Got Talent, where she won over the judges with impressions of Barbara Walters, Miley Cyrus, Kathy Griffin, and Christina Aguilera. Videos of her performances went viral at the time, helping to earn Melissa a strong following that she would theoretically bring with her to Saturday Night Live.
Melissa Villaseñor is the first Latina on SNL, and it's about time. https://t.co/BHMcvw35ed— Upworthy (@Upworthy) September 17, 2016
But within two weeks, Melissa Villasenor found herself in the center of a growing controversy when a number of deleted tweets showed up in which she appeared to further racial stereotypes and make a number of insensitive jokes. Villasenor actually drew attention herself when she purged close to 2,000 tweets from her account, which caught the attention of many people across the internet.
Heat Street noted that the deleted tweets were soon uncovered.
“Writer Aura Bogado noticed her mass clear out and investigated further. In a series of tweets, Bogado wrote that she was disappointed with a number of remarks tweeted out by Villaseñor. She shared a number of them to her followers, but they were quickly deleted by the comedian.
“Some of the seemingly prejudiced comments from the new SNL cast member included comparing a dog to ‘an old Japanese man’ and stating that she was ‘scared’ about being set up on a date with a black man.”
Many others then began to share the tweets, forwarding them to Saturday Night Live and NBC.
It’s not clear if Saturday Night Live will take any action against Melissa Villasenor, but it might not be out of the question to see her fired from the show before she even starts.
That was the route the show took with another cast member in trouble for some controversial tweets, though the hammer didn’t fall quite as quickly. Not long after the show announced last summer that Jon Rudnitsky would be joining the cast, some internet sleuths uncovered a history of sexist and bigoted tweets from the comedian.
Gawker first uncovered the evidence, which included tweets including one that read, “Any time you hear somebody say ‘she means well’ it means she’s a whore.”
Rudnitsky also had some even more racially insensitive Vine videos, which he soon deleted.
But the report carried the gist of some of these videos, chiding Rudnitsky for not thinking ahead about the harm they would cause.
“I would have remembered that I created an account on Vine. I would have recalled that I made a video where I was just like, ‘The whole joke is about Mexicans shooting you.’ I would have chosen to remove this video from the internet.”
The controversy hurt Rudnitsky, who ended up being fired after his first season.
It’s not clear if Melissa Villasenor could suffer the same fate, but it appears that the network already has quite a bit invested in her. As the Daily Beast noted, Saturday Night Live chief Lorne Michaels had already been building up Villasenor.
“Then there is the highly produced video series ‘Daily Itineraries’ Villaseñor starred in for Más Mejor, a web platform from Lorne Michaels’s company Broadway Video that exists to highlight Latino voices in comedy.”
What happens to Melissa Villasenor next is still unknown. Neither NBC nor the top brass at Saturday Night Live have issued any kind of response to the growing controversy.
[Featured Image by NBC Universal]