Leslie Jones is walking away from “Saturday Night Live ” before the start of Season 45, The Los Angeles Times has learned, but fellow star Kate McKinnon is sticking around.
Jones, a stand-up comic-turned-actress, first joined the show as a writer. She had auditioned in late 2013 at a casting session that was focused on adding one African American woman to the cast, which had long been criticized for its homogeneity. After a couple of on-camera appearances, she became a featured player in October 2014, then returned for the next four seasons.
Since joining the cast, she costarred in the female incarnation of “Ghostbusters ” and added her voice to “The Angry Birds Movie 2, ” among other projects.
The 51-year-old has become known for her raucous social media presence, even earning a job covering the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after gaining attention with her enthusiastic comments on Twitter. But social media hasn’t been all fun for Jones : She’d been in a “personal hell ” on Twitter just months before the Olympics, when the “Ghostbusters ” release unleashed a slew of hateful, racist attacks on her.
“I know who I am, ” Jones told The Times right before the attacks began. “And I don’t care if you think I’m sexy.”
“The Internet has made it so we don’t have to sit together anymore, ” she continued. “It’s so self-absorbed. No one has to talk to each other anymore, and people don’t realize that that is killing us.”
McKinnon, who joined the cast as a featured player in 2012, is best known for her impressions of Justin Bieber, Hillary Clinton and, more recently, Marianne Williamson. She also costarred in “Ghostbusters.”
On Monday, “Saturday Night Live ” announced its initial lineup for Season 45, which kicks off Sept. 28 with a show hosted by Woody Harrelson and featuring Billie Eilish as musical guest. Other hosts on tap so far are Phoebe Waller-Bridge with musical guest Taylor Swift ; David Harbour with musical guest Camila Cabello ; Kristen Stewart and Eddie Murphy.
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