Spirit Awards 2021: Host Melissa Villasenor



Melissa Villaseñor
Courtesy of Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
While the 33-year-old comedian’s deep bench of impersonations (Owen Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga) has made her a standout on the NBC series, audiences should not expect to see her spoofing the year in film.

The top nominees Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Minari, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Nomadland are all on the serious side, so Villaseñor will be making herself the butt of the jokes.

Never hosting before

Never.  I have no experience, but I have done stand-up for over a decade now, so I know what it feels like to be onstage alone.

Do you typically have an audience?

I do love an audience. For me, that’s the ultimate. The best thing is feeling the crowd and having the same energy and laughing together. This is tough, but my goal is that I make the camera people laugh.  I have  podcast  where I just talk to myself about things, so I feel very comfy laughing at my own jokes.

Prep Process?

We’re not making fun of any of the movies because they’re all pretty heavy. I’m the butt of the joke. I think, with the writers, that we have come up with some pretty fun stuff. Of course, they know my voice and style. I’m not a mean comic. It doesn’t work for me.

Mean comedy?

When I was trying to find my voice as a comedian, early in my stand-up years, I tried mean comedy. But then I just felt bad after. It’s not really who I am. And the crowd can feel it when you’re not being true to yourself. I like to curse every now and then. I’ll throw in an F-bomb onstage, but only if I’ve earned it. I don’t just throw those words around, but I think they’re funny — out of my mouth, with this voice — when I do say them.

Type of role you think would win you Oscar?

I hope to star in a biopic of some musician, so I could do their impression and get into their minds and do their singing impression.

Take on Dolly Parton 

I don’t think I shared it on set until the week prior to that “Weekend Update,” but I had started to work on it in the summer. I was obsessed with her audiobook Dream More, and I just was listening to her music every day. It felt like a comforting friend was there with me.

Villaseñor as Dolly Parton and anchor Colin Jost during Weekend Update
Courtesy of Will Heath/NBC
Villaseñor as Dolly Parton and anchor Colin Jost during “Weekend Update” on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ on Dec. 12, 2020.

Impressions–an innate skill or a learned one?

I don’t know! It feels very cool how my ears just naturally ping it–they just tune in with how people sound. It does take some time to perfect certain ones, but sometimes it’s like I’m a little parrot.

Saturday Night during the new administration?

I think it’s a relief. That was such a heavy … A weight has been lifted off our shoulders. There’s been a lot more room for silliness. We have cold opens now that aren’t even about politics!