When you’re a Black person in a predominantly white workplace, you sometimes find yourself developing an instant bond with the other Black people in the office. Luckily for Leslie Jones, she had SNL vet Kenan Thompson to help her navigate the tricky dynamics of the venerable sketch comedy series. The two became so close during Jones’ five years on Saturday Night Live that she gave him a preview of her new memoir, Leslie F*cking Jones.
“There were so many things that I could have put in the book that I didn’t,” Jones told People. “Kenan wanted me to take out a couple things that I took out for him.”
While promoting the book she recalled a time when they were discussing how they’d had quite a few Black hosts and received a very passive aggressive interjection from a writer. There’s always somebody who wants to “well actually” when Black people are having a private conversation.
“I just remember one time getting into it with a writer,” she said. “He was talking to me and Kenan, and we were talking about how we are glad we’re getting Black hosts on. The writer was like, ‘Oh, just to be fair, last season we had more Black hosts than white hosts.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you very much out your 40 motherfucking years on television!”
Turns out it was Leslie who was responsible for one of the greatest moments in SNL history. She got the late Chadwick Boseman to host, which led to the now classic sketch where T’Challa appears on “Black Jeopardy.”
“I got him because I saw him at a Black Panther after party,” she said. “I was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to do SNL and we’ll take care of you”
Obviously, it wasn’t all laughs and rainbows. We all know how hard it is to be the only Black woman in an office full of white people. Everything you say, do and wear is judged. Like many Black actresses, she had to fight for a Black hair stylist, something particularly important on a sketch comedy show that revolves around multiple quick changes per episode.
“Any White corporation you go to as a Black female, you’re going to face stereotypes,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m a Black woman, I’ve got Black hair. Give me a Black hairdresser.”
In 2019, Leslie left SNL because she “realized that I can only do so much in this machine. Or I can take what I learned in this machine and go make my own machine. It’s like a bittersweet thing.”
Since leaving the comedy series she’s had a Netflix stand up special; hosted the ABC game show Supermarket Sweep; appeared in the film sequel Coming 2 America and the TV series Our Flag Means Death, plus she was one of the many guest hosts on The Daily Show. And Leslie F*cking Jones is out Sept. 19. I’d say she’s done a pretty good job of creating her own machine.