Maya Rudolph scored the cover of this week’s New York Times Magazine, with a story about her storied career, including her new show Forever, which hit Amazon this week. And like most women who’ve made their way through Saturday Night Live, she had stories. In the candid profile, Rudolph opened up about how being bi-racial has affected her career, especially during her seven year SNL stint.
A lot of it had to do with her hair. Rudolph — the daughter of the late soul singer Minnie Riperton and the producer and songwriter Richard Rudolph — referred to her hair as “super, super, superthick and supercurly,” saying it was often the subject of fun as a kid.
Things didn’t get better when she grew up. It was a sore point when she got to SNL. Her hair was so thick it had trouble getting under the copious wigs she had to wear.
Every Friday night, Rudolph would have her weekly blowouts in the hair department, right by various men’s 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?’” she recalled.
When she was hired in 2000, Rudolph was the first black female cast member since the show’s 1975 debut. She didn’t see it that way, though.
“When I did SNL, I didn’t feel like I was hired to be the black lady, which can happen a lot,” Rudolph explained. “Who knows? Maybe I was and no one told me.”
Rudolph said her experience there was overall “positive,” but she had her share of disappointments. Those tended to come when she wasn’t writing her own material.
“There were times I was frustrated, like, ‘Why can’t I [expletive] just play that role?’”, she said. “But obviously the person next to me that’s white is going to play that white character.”