Melissa Villasenor Left Saturday Night Live Over Mental Health Struggles

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Melissa Villaseñor has opened up on why she left the series. Ahead of the show’s current 48th season, there had been a mass exodus of cast members, many of whom had been on the series for years. Villaseñor, who joined the show in 2016, had been among those to leave alongside Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Kyle Moody, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd, and Aristotle Athari.

Now, Villaseñor has shared the story behind her sudden exit. Speaking about the situation on The Last Laugh podcast (per People), Villaseñor says she made the choice herself due to the toll that SNL had been taking on her mental health. It had gotten to the point where the performer had been consistently dealing with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, and eventually, she had reached her limit. From the interview:

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“It was my decision. I gave myself a lot of time in the summer to think on it and kind of play out in my head if I go back… At the end of the day, it was about my mental health. Last season, I had a couple panic attacks. I was struggling, and I always felt like I was on the edge of a cliff every week. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do that to myself anymore.'”

Villaseñor points out that she didn’t have any friction with her fellow cast members. However, she felt like a bit of an outsider as a natural introvert, and that contributed to her overall anxiety and eventual exit.

“It was just how I handle things. I think I’m an introvert. When I’m in a big group of a lot of amazing people, and everyone’s speaking over everyone else, I think I tend to get small. I get nervous, like, where do I fit? What am I supposed to do? That’s how I was in high school, too. And so I think that’s what caused it. And I was like, I think I’m OK. I feel like there’s nothing else that I feel like, oh, I need to be sharing this, I want to do this on the show. I think I’m ready. There was just something telling me, I think I could part ways.”

Leaving SNL Wasn’t Easy

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Maybe Saturday Night Live wasn’t the most perfect fit for Villaseñor, but it wasn’t that she regrets her time working on the show. She goes on to explain how much she appreciates creator Lorne Michaels and the rest of the show’s team for giving her the opportunity to live out her dream. It’s something she’ll forever cherish, even if she now finds it best to close that chapter of her life.

“I love Lorne [Michaels]! And I am so grateful for all of them for having me. And I shared with them that this was my kid dream. This is all I wanted as a kid. So I’m going to carry that forever in my heart, that I got to experience that in my life.”

Fans of Villaseñor can keep up with her by checking out her new book Whoops… I’m Awesome, now available where books are sold.