Melissa Villaseñor Says Leaving ‘SNL’ Was A “Mental Health” Decision

c-title pmc-u-font-size-20 pmc-u-font-size-38@tablet pmc-u-font-size-46@desktop-xl u-text-align-center@mobile-max u-letter-spacing-0025 pmc-u-line-height-normal u-line-height-45@tablet pmc-u-padding-t-1 pmc-u-padding-t-050@mobile-max”>Melissa Villaseñor Says Leaving ‘SNL’ Was A “Mental Health” Decision

By Tom Tapp

Tom Tapp

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October 26, 2022 1:59pm

Melissa Villaseñor
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Former Saturday Night Live castmember Melissa Villaseñor opened up this week about her decision to leave the show, and it doesn’t sound like it was an easy one.

“It was my decision,” Villaseñor told The Daily Beast’s Last Laugh podcast. She went on to explain the terms on which she departed in September. “I gave myself a lot of time in the summer to think on it and kind of play out in my head if I go back. At the end of the day it was about my mental health. Last season, I had a couple of panic attacks. I think it was just…I was struggling. I always felt like I was on the edge of a cliff every week. And I was like, I don’t want to be doing that to myself anymore. And it’s not like the show was mean toward me or anyone. It was just how I handle things.”

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Villaseñor’s list of SNL impersonations include Jennifer Lopez, AOC, Sarah Silverman and Kristen Wiig. She was one of many high-profile castembers to leave recently, with Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney announcing in May that they were leaving the show at the end of Season 47 along with Pete Davidson. On September 1, Alex Moffat, Villaseñor and Aristotle Athari announced that they would not be returning, either. Chris Redd joined the exodus in mid-September.

Villaseñor admitted the decision “was super hard” to leave the show after six seasons “because I love Lorne [Michaels] and I am so grateful for all of them for having me.” Even more, being on the show fulfilled a lifelong dream.

“This is all I wanted as a kid,” she said, “so I’m going to carry that forever in my heart, that I got to experience that in my life.”

With a record number of castmembers last season, it made sense that it was time for a big change at SNL.

“We got to a point where we had a lot of people, and people weren’t getting enough playing time,” Michaels told the New York Times in an interview. “The way the series has survived is by that level of renewal. The price of success is that people go off and do other things; their primary obligation is to their talent and to keep pushing that.”

For Villaseñor, there were more personal reasons, as well.

“I think I’m an introvert,” she said. “When I’m in a big group of a lot of amazing people, and everyone’s speaking over everyone else, I think I tend to get small. I get nervous, like, where do I fit? What am I supposed to do? That’s how I was in high school, too. And so I think that’s what caused it. And I was like, I think I’m okay. I feel like there’s nothing else that I feel like, oh, I need to be sharing this, I want to do this on the show. I think I’m ready. There was just something telling me, I think I could part ways.”

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