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For a while, it looked like Saturday Night Live would make it to Season 45 without going through any major casting shakeups, it was revealed recently that Leslie Jones has exited the sketch series ahead of the new season's production. Nearly a week went by without Jones making any public declarations about the matter, but fans knew the comedian wouldn't be on the silent end forever.
Leslie Jones took to social media to share her thoughts about leaving, which came mostly in the form of heavy appreciation for those that surrounded her, both on the screen and off of it. In her words:
Yes it’s true I am leaving Saturday Night Live. I cannot thank NBC, the producers, writers, and amazing crew enough for making SNL my second home these last five years. Lorne Michaels, you’ve changed my life in so many ways! Thank you for being my mentor and confidant and for always having my back. You not only have my loyalty but you have my heart too! You have shown me skills I never imagined I had. I leave a better performer because of you. To the incredible cast members: I will miss working, creating and laughing with you.
Taking to Twitter with her gratitude, Leslie Jones is wrapping up a five-year run on Saturday Night Live that was filled with some pretty major career highs, such as landing one of the four lead roles in Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot alongside SNL co-star Kate McKinnon. Granted, that film's production was marred by a stiff rise in toxic internet culture, which bled into unnecessary personal attacks on Jones for various reasons. (She's not so pumped about Jason Reitman's upcoming Ghostbusters flick, either.)
Beyond that temporary blight, though, Leslie Jones has become a household name in the best of ways since starting up on SNL back in 2014, where she began as a writer before quickly being bumped up to featured player later that year for Season 40. Her evolution as a performer was a noteworthy one, and she will no doubt be a shining light on every project that comes next. (More on that in a sec.)
Though Leslie Jones was fairly critical of Kenan Thompson in the time before she joined SNL (which she was also critical of for its lack of diversity), Jones and Thompson ended up becoming really strong friends by the end. Speaking of, she continued her social media farewell to SNL with the following:
I will miss holding it down with Kenan everyday, I will miss Cecily’s impression of me making me laugh at myself often, I will miss Kate’s loving hugs and talks when I needed. And of course Colin, you porcelain-skinned Ken doll. I will miss all my cast mates!! Especially being at the table reads with them!! Everyone needs to know Leslie Jones couldn’t have done any of the things I did without these people. One last thing – to the fans – you are the BEST!! Thank you for all the love and support through my SNL years and I know you will be as excited as I am when you see some of the amazing projects and adventures that I have coming up very soon! Love you all!! #iamnotdeadjustgraduating
Will Leslie Jones return for an SNL hosting gig at some point? Probably not during Season 45, since that might be a little too soon. But considering she's exiting with (seemingly) nothing but appreciation for everyone on the show, I can't imagine she'll stay away forever. After all, she's a huge Game of Thrones fan, and there will likely be lots to talk about and make fun of whenever the prequels and spinoffs have made their way to HBO.
Check out Jones' Twitter post below to see the excellent video highlighting her time on SNL.
In the meantime, though, Leslie Jones already has a follow-up project to potentially take the place of her sketch comedy work. She's being tapped to head up a revival of the classic game show Supermarket Sweep, which is currently being shopped around to networks and streaming services. She's also joined the cast of the long-awaited sequel Coming 2 America, with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall returning to reprise their characters.
Saturday Night Live Season 45 will kick off its fall run on NBC starting on Saturday, September 28, at 11:30 p.m. ET.