Saturday Night Live adds 3 new cast members

Saturday Night Live adds 3 new cast members

Saturday Night Live is adding three new cast members for its upcoming 45th season, including the show’s only Asian American performer.

Bowen Yang, who joined NBC’s SNL last season as a staff writer, will be a featured player, NBC said Thursday. Yang is co-host of a podcast, Las Culturistas

Also joining the show as featured players are Chloe Fineman and Shane Gillis. Fineman has been a regular performer with the Groundlings improv company, and both she and Gillis were featured as New Faces at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.

Saturday Night Live has taken heat over the years for an overall lack of ethnic diversity, with scant Asian representation among its cast members or hosts. Former players Fred Armisen and Rob Schneider both are one-quarter Asian, but neither has been widely recognized for their Asian ancestry.

Among hosts, the long history of SNL includes a shortlist of performers with Asian heritage; Canadian Sandra Oh, Awkwafina, and Jackie Chan are among them.

Ottawa-born actress Sandra Oh took on hosting duties in the past season of Saturday Night Live, and remains one of the few with Asian heritage to take the popular stage. (NBC)

Change is a constant at SNL, which is helmed by Canadian executive producer Lorne Michaels.

Leslie Jones, who joined the show after it was criticized in 2013 for the absence of an African-American woman among its regular or featured players, is focusing on stand-up and movies and won’t be back this season.

Leslie Jones is leaving the cast of SNL to pursue other endeavours. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The show returns Sept. 28 with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish. 

CBC | Arts News

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