Perhaps the most improbable SNL success story has run its course.
News it out today that Leslie Jones has departed Saturday Night Live, and will not rejoin the cast for the 45th season on NBC which begins in September.
Jones, 51, was the oldest ever comedian to join the cast of SNL in October 2014. She had been hired the previous winter as a writer following backlash against Lorne Michaels and SNL for not having any black women on the show. Jones, a stand-up comedian with very little in the way of previous acting experience, received a testimonial from former SNL cast member Chris Rock, who had cast her in his movie, Top Five.
Jones made her initial appearance onscreen with SNL delivering stand-up from the Weekend Anchor desk. Her high-energy hilarity helped her earn the promotion to the cast. In her early appearances, she playfully flirted with Weekend Anchor co-host Colin Jost; later, pre-taped video shorts jokingly suggested a show romance with cast member Kyle Mooney.
Away from SNL, Jones became one of the four female Ghostbusters in the reimagining of that film franchise; and her exuberant joy watching the Olympics on NBC got her an actual gig at the Olympics.
Earlier this month, Jones announced she’d be recording a new stand-up special for Netflix, which will air in 2020. She’ll also appear in the Coming 2 America movie, currently in production.
No word yet on how, if at all, SNL will replace her.
But this is not the end for her. Far from it.