The comedian says she lost out on playing white characters.
"Saturday Night Live" may have jumpstarted Maya Rudolph’s career, but it wasn’t always a pleasant experience.
In an interview with "The New York Times," the comedian spoke about the struggles about growing up mixed race — she’s half-black and half-white — including trying to tame her "superthick and supercurly" hair, and that followed her into her sketch comedy career as well. The actress explained that her white castmates would even make fun of her because of it.
"My hair was natural when I started ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but it was so thick to get under the wigs," Rudolph told the publication. "[The blow-dry station] was on the same hallway as a lot of the dudes’ dressing rooms. And every [expletive] Friday night, we’d hear some [expletive] white guy walking down the hall going, ‘Is something burning in here? What’s burning?’ I’m like — I’m. Get-ting. My. Hair. Done.’"
Rudolph, who was on the Emmy-winning show from 2000 to 2007, doesn’t think she was hired to play the "black lady" on the show, but still thinks she was often left out of white roles.
"There were times I was frustrated, like, ‘Why can’t I [expletive] just play that role?’ But obviously the person next to me that’s white is going to play that white character," she said.
Ruldoph’s talent for uncanny impressions wasn’t just about her natural ability, but the fact that she could also impersonate other races than her own. For example, while on "SNL," Rudolph was able to nail down characters that are Latina (Charo), white (Paris Hilton) and Asian (Lucy Liu).
"I just never felt like that was the first place to go, to define myself by race," she said. "Now, the difference is not everybody else believes that you can play those things, but if you’re writing it, who gives a [expletive]?"
After her mother died when she was 7, the "Bridesmaids" star struggled to control her mane without having a female figure in the household. Rudolph said that she would get so angry that her neighbors could hear her scream all the way from across the street. Her hair problems even followed her into college, where students would ridicule her hair.
"’Your hair is so ethnic. Can I touch it?’" Rudolph recalled students saying to her. "I actually have an aversion to that word, way more than people say they hate the word ‘moist.’ I hate the word ‘ethnic’ in that way. It’s like they’re talking about a print."
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