University of Dayton alumni Molly Kearney made history as the first non-binary Saturday Night Live cast member

Molly Kearney’s SNL headshot. Photo from of NBC.

Luke Osciak | Arts & Entertainment Editor

Kearney made the announcement via a post on their Instagram account on Sept. 15 with the caption “MEATBRICK MOVED TO NEW YORK.” Along with that post, they also reposted SNL’s official announcement on their Instagram with the caption “Head exploding!! Thanks for the love everyone.”

The announcement was in preparation for the show’s 48th season. Kearney enters the cast after an exodus of huge talents from SNL including Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon and Kyle Mooney. To fill the hole that those cast members left, Senior Producer Lindsay Shookus looked to hire a diverse body of new cast members. 

In 2019, Bowen Yang became the first out gay Asian cast member, and he was able to pave the way for Kearney and other queer comedians such as Punkie Johnson to make their debuts on SNL.

During their time at UD, Kearney was heavily involved in UD’s theatre program. They participated in On the Fly, multiple Studio Theatre events, and directed the surrealist play “Action” by Sam Shepard.

In a Facebook post, Professor Jenna Gomes De Gruy commented on her time with Kearney while they were at Dayton. 

“At UD in 2012, Molly did a one-person original comedy show called ‘Welcome to the Kearnival,’ and I remember looking at them afterwards and saying, ‘I’m going to see you on SNL,’” Gomes De Gruy said. “Needless to say, I’m not the least bit surprised that has come true.”

Besides Saturday Night Live, Kearney has had a variety of roles across contemporary television. Most recently they starred as Fern Dannely in Amazon prime’s queer reimagining of “A League of Their Own.” They also starred in “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” a TV adaptation of the 90s movie on Disney Plus. In 2019, they headlined at Comedy Central’s “Up Next” showcase, an event that highlighted the most exciting names in comedy.

The first episode of SNL’s 48th season premiered Oct. 1. The episode was the debut of the four new cast members; Comedians Michael Longfellow, Devon Walker and Marcello Hernandez joined Kearney on the stage.

Kearney appeared in two sketches and is in the show’s opening credits and the concluding wrap-up.

At the 74th Emmys, executive producer Lorne Michaels said that SNL’s newest season “will be a transition year.” Kearney being the first out non-binary cast member is a sign of this change within the television program, and contemporary television.

In the past couple of years, television has seen an explosion of queer and LGBTQ+ stories. From wholesome romances like Netflix’s “Heartstopper” and HBO’s “Our Flag Means Death,” to the reality TV goliath of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race,” queer and LGBT stories are salient in the in the television zeitgeist. 

SNL’s decision to bring on more diverse voices to their production sets an enormous precedent of where the future of television is headed. The staff at Flyer News are excited to see Molly, representing Flyers everywhere.

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