The Women of SNL: Maya Rudolph

On September 20th, 2020, the Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series was awarded to Maya Rudolph for her portrayal of then Senator Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live. While the national spotlight’s on VP Elect Harris, it’s also on the woman portraying her every Saturday night.

For Rudolph, President Elect Joe Biden’s decision to pick Harris -- his fiercest competitor from the 2020 Democratic Party presidential debates -- as his running mate came as a surprise.

“I certainly didn’t expect, once she dropped out of the presidential race, to be here doing this every weekend now, but I’m here for it,” Rudolph told the Associated Press, adding that she’s “loved playing [Harris] and also just being aligned with her and her campaign.”  

While Rudolph’s Harris impersonations have so far been limited to guest appearances on SNL, the actress and comedian previously served as a cast member on the show from 2000 to 2007. 

During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Rudolph said that her tenure on the show makes her feel “so grateful, always, to be a part of that place. And then, like, when in my wildest dreams did I think there'd ever be a candidate that looks remotely close to [me].”

Throughout their careers, Harris and Rudolph have broken barriers in industries dominated by white men. On November 6th of this year, Kamala Harris became the first female and person of color to be the Vice President Elect of the United States. Similarly, Rudolph was the first person of mixed-race heritage and only the fourth black female to be an SNL cast member.

During her seven year tenure, Rudolph impersonated some of the most recognizable names in pop culture. From an energetic Oprah celebrating her 50th birthday to a tispy Donatella Versace promoting edible Versace Pockets, celebrity impersonations allowed Rudolph to showcase her comedic range. 

After leaving the show in 2007, Rudolph starred alongside fellow SNL alum, Kristen Wiig, in Bridesmaids, which Wiig co-wrote. Since then, she has acted in television shows such as Big Mouth, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and The Good Place. Most recently, Rudolph appeared as an unsatisfied wife in the Adam Sandler holiday flick, Hubie Halloween.

While Rudolph has yet to publicly declare if she will return to SNL as a cast member in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, she’s outspoken in her admiration for the VP Elect.

“I fell in love with her,” she said in an interview with Apple News, “That element of [Harris] that’s so approachable allowed us to lean into a style of telling it like it is, of someone who feels like they’re your friend or your auntie.” In the coming four years, audiences can expect Rudolph to continue portraying the VP Elect who, like herself, knows what it’s like to be “the first.”


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Photos: Her Campus Media