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How SNL Star Ego Nwodim Brought ‘Lisa From Temecula' to Life

Growing up in Maryland, SNL star Ego Ewodim wanted to be an actress. Her mother, a Nigerian immigrant, wanted her to be a doctor. So she made a deal with her mother.

She moved across the country to LA to “be near where the acting happens,” but agreed to study pre-med.
This life experience influenced a skit she wrote when she joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2018.

Ewodim sat down with NBCLA to talk about comedy, college, and the character who likes her steak “extra – extra well done” — AKA, Lisa from Temecula.

“Lisa; how I would describe her is as indignant, chaotic, strong and wrong. She has no idea,” Ewodim said. “There is something sort of blissfully ignorant about her.”

The sketch — which made all of her castmates break, including guest Pedro Pascal — also got the attention of the Temecula mayor. Mayor Zak Schwank also invited Ewodim to come enjoy dinner for the state of the city.

“When I was in it, I feel like I was being Lisa, I was really Lisa. So people have asked me, like, ‘how did you not break?’ And I’m like, ‘I was just being this woman who’s like, what’s the problem?’”

The USC alum describes how she was invited back to her alma mater to speak at commencement.

“Surreal. mean, from arriving on that campus myself as an 18-year-old and not knowing what I was going to make of myself or what my future really held to then being like, I’m here getting to speak to young people who are in the same position. I was on this very campus campus. It was so meaningful to me. It felt like a real full circle moment,” she said.

Growing up, she of course watched Saturday Night Live. But there were other influential comedies that she honed in on.

“I was a bIg fan of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I also watched a lot of ‘Martin.’ I watched a lot. I don’t know if I was supposed to be watching “Martin,” but I was watching a lot of “Martin.” I was watching a lot of ‘The Jamie Foxx Show.’ Huge Jamie Foxx fan,” she said.

Her life also sometimes ends up on an episode of SNL.

“There was a sketch I did with Daniel Kaluuya a couple years back called ‘Proud Parents.’ And it was he and I played African parents to a young Chris Redd who was our son who was telling us that he changed his major from pre-med to like some premed major to creative writing,” she said. “So that was certainly a pull form my life. ‘Midday News’ is another sketch I wrote with Michael Che and Chris Redd. Also pulled from my own life.”

In the “Midday News” sketch, the news anchors — portrayed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Alex Moffat, Chris Redd — attempt to “report the local news while trying not to react to the race of each subject.” Nwodim and Thompson high-five each other when a suspect is described as “a white male.”

In discussing how race fits in to the show, Nwodim says you can do something meaningful in the discussion.

“I think about comedy as a way to disarm people. I think everybody with a pulse likes to laugh. And so if you can say something with your comedy, I think that is so meaningful and powerful to do,” she said. “And what I loved about that sketch is that everyone kind of got behind it in a sense and was like, actually do that too…I feel like it brought people together and it put an emphasis on our shared experience as humans.”

But she also gets to portray legends with some star power — like in her SNL sketch portraying Dionne Warwick as sh struggles to interview celebrity guests.

“So many incredible people who come through those halls and to have Dionne embrace my impression of her was surreal,” she said.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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