Celebrities

‘Saturday Night Live’ adds first Asian cast member Bowen Yang




Meet “Saturday Night Live”‘s new cast additions for its upcoming 45th season. Chloe Fineman, Shane Gillis and Bowen Yang have been tapped as new featured players on NBC’s venerable late-night sketch comedy program.

Yang joined “SNL” as a staff writer last season and is co-host of the “Las Culturistas” podcast. The promotion of Yang, son of Chinese immigrants, marks a milestone for representation on the program where he will be the first full-time East Asian cast member. (“SNL” alum Fred Armisen is a quarter Japanese, and fellow former “SNL”-er. Rob Schneider is a quarter Filipino.)

The deficiency, which led to “SNL” production designer Akira Yoshimura being recruited to play Asian “Star Trek” character Sulu in a 2017 “Star Trek” skit featuring Chris Pine, was addressed on the show by then-new cast member Melissa Villaseñor in a sketch about the 2016 Vice-Presidential debate. “Hello, I’m the new Hispanic cast member,” she said in the skit, “and I’ll be playing Asian moderator Elaine Quijano. Because baby steps.”

In addition to Armisen and Schneider, “SNL”’s cast previously included Nasim Pedrad who is of Iranian descent.

Fineman was a New Face at the 2018 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and has been a regular performer at the Groundlings.

Gillis was recently recognized as a New Face at the 2019 Just for Laughs Festival.

The cast additions follow the news that “SNL” mainstay Leslie Jones is leaving after five seasons. Fineman, Gillis and Yang will join returning veteran “SNL” cast members Kate McKinnon, who is returning for an eighth season, along with the rest of the troupe, led by McKinnon and fellow veterans Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong.

Season 45 of “SNL” premieres on September 28 with Woody Harrelson, in his fourth appearance as host, and musical guest Billie Eilish.

“Saturday Night Live” is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.




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