Q What’s it like being a new cast member?
When I first started, I wanted to do everything right. I’m a perfectionist to my very core. I put a lot of pressure on myself. But I had to snap out of that quickly because things move too fast there to dwell. I think (new cast members) Punkie, Andrew, and I were lucky, in a way, that we started during the pandemic. We’ve been learning the ropes while everyone else has been getting used to the new COVID protocols. So it’s kind of like we’re all newbies together.
What’s made it special is how lovely the cast and crew have been. So many people have gone out of their way to check in and make me feel welcome. I just can’t wait until we can all finally hang out! There’s only so much you can talk about six feet apart and with masks and shields on.
The writing and performing side is a whole different world as well. You must have a strong sense of self and be willing to put yourself out there. It’s a self-propelled system, and it’s up to you to make your voice heard. It’s daunting to pitch a silly idea you had in the shower to some of the greatest comedic minds in the world. But you’ve got to do it if you want to get your material on the air.
Q Have you helped write any sketches – or develop your characters?
I’ve helped write/written lots of sketches that haven’t made it onto the show. But I’m still new to the game, and I fully expect it to take a while before I can get things on air. I’m learning so much every week, though, and getting better at writing sketches for television. It’s different from writing for the stage, which was the bulk of my experience before SNL.
Q You joined the show last fall as they did six straight weeks, during the pandemic?
Those first six weeks were crazy. Not only was I adjusting to being on the show, but I was also adjusting to being around people again. I hadn’t been around anyone since the initial lockdown in March. So it was pretty wild being thrown into the deep end, especially when my heroes and idols were swimming around me. My social skills were rusty, and I was just hoping everyone didn’t think I was a total weirdo. Overall that first block of shows was incredible and overwhelming, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
Q So how did you come across this opportunity?
After a few years of taking improv classes and performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade (in Los Angeles), I had the opportunity to do the theater’s showcase for performers without agents or managers. From that performance, I landed some managers who had me put together a tape to send to SNL.
From that tape, I was invited to do an SNL showcase – essentially an audition to audition. That showcase was …dun dun dun … the very next day. About a month later, I found out I was moving on to the next round. They flew me to NYC to do the big audition, called a “screen-test,” on THE STAGE … you know the one.
Later that year, they flew me out to screen-test again with all-new material. On that trip, I met with some writers, producers, and Lorne. But it wasn’t the right time yet.
The following summer, I submitted another tape, did another showcase in LA, flew to NYC to test for the third time, and had more meetings.
They actually didn’t tell me the tape was for SNL when I was doing it, which I think was a good call because I probably would have fussed over it much more than I did.
Photography courtesy SNL and Lauren Holt; interviews conducted via email; some responses have been lightly edited or condensed for length.
Relationship expert Mackenzie Taylor-Joy (Lauren Holt) stops by Weekend Update to discuss Valentine’s Day date ideas.