When "Saturday Night Live" returns next month, one of its most popular cast members will not: Leslie Jones has chosen to leave the sketch comedy series after five seasons, according to reports.
Jones joined "SNL" as a writer in early 2013 after having established herself as a stand-up act. It was on Chris Rock's recommendation that Lorne Michaels considered Jones for the show; though she had auditioned the previous year as part of a casting call designed to increase diversity, that spot ended up going to Sasheer Zamata.
Jones's own "SNL" career began rocklily, as her on-screen debut during a May 2014 segment of "Weekend Update" courted controversy. (She repeated a joke she had previously told in clubs about how difficult it is for black women to date nowadays: "Back in the slave days, I would never have been single," she said, referring to herself as the "No. 1 slave draft pick.")
Nevertheless, Jones was made a featured player that fall, making her the oldest cast member the show had ever hired. At 47, she kicked off a new stage in her career, skirting some aspects of the "SNL" tradition by earning the most recognition for playing an exaggerated version of herself.
In a "Weekend Update" segment this year, Jones made waves by dressing in a red cloak from "The Handmaid's Tale" and condemning Alabama's near-total abortion ban. "Well, basically, we're all handmaids now," she said, adding: "I'm out living my life, and then I see on the news [that] a bunch of states are trying to ban abortion and tell me what I can and can't do with my body.