Kate McKinnon May Leave ‘Saturday Night Live’

Kate McKinnon at the 'Shrill' premiere.
Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

One of the mainstay performers on Saturday Night Live in recent years, as well as its most prolific political impressionist, may be leaving the show.

According to Variety, Kate McKinnon is nearing the end of her Saturday Night Live contract. Variety reports that although McKinnon’s reps, and the producers, are talking about “working to find a way to keep her appearing on the program,” this may mark the end of her years as a regular on the show. The report also claims that a decision may not be made on McKinnon’s future with the show until later this year.

McKinnon joined the venerable sketch comedy series in 2012, and quickly made her mark as one of the show’s most talented performers. She’s known for impressions of Hillary Clinton and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while also showing some ability to impersonate such male celebrities as Justin Bieber. She has also performed impressions of political figures, like Jeff Sessions and Rudy Guiliani.

The 35-year-old McKinnon has been appearing in movies for the last few years, including the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, Office Christmas Party, Rough Night, and The Spy Who Dumped Me. While her performances have been highly praised, McKinnon hasn’t yet established herself as a movie star, or a box office draw. However, a considerable amount of movie work could be an indication that a departure from the show may be imminent.

The actress was recently cast as disgraced businesswoman Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout, an upcoming Hulu limited series based on the popular podcast of the same name. Jennifer Lawrence is attached to play Holmes in a different project about the Theranos scandal, a feature film that Adam McKay is scheduled to direct.

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While Saturday Night Live has had to deal with departures of major cast members for nearly its entire history, losing McKinnon would cost the show its most prominent impressionist. This may be dire news for the show, especially at a time when Saturday Night Live is increasingly reliant upon cameos and guest appearances from major celebrities — as well as upon returning alumni.

Even if she does leave the series, there’s a well-established path for former Saturday Night Live cast members to make regular appearances on the show should the script call for it. So if, say, a Hillary Clinton impression is required at some point in the future, it wouldn’t be a surprise if McKinnon returned to Studio 8H in order to deliver it.