While Saturday Night Live cast members are dropping faster than your morals at last call on a Friday. But who needs SNL anyway? Latinos don’t because well, they almost never cast us (save for Fred Armisen, Horatio Sanz). Enter the revamped, reboot of the sketch comedy show, MADtv, which now airs on the CW. No need to start online campaigns for MAD to hire minorities—their cast is literally the United Nations of comedy. And, of course, we’re all about Michelle Ortiz—the Latina who gives Dora the Explorer a ‘hood vibe, makes Sofia Vergara’s accent funnier, and has the ever-contorting face of an emoji. Get to know your new comedy crush.
You were in almost every sketch in the season’s first episode.
The first episode is kind of the Michelle show. It wasn't on purpose. Even the writers and producers didn't realize how much stuff I was in until the night of the last taping. For the last taping, I wasn’t in it much to balance it out.
You also imitated Melania Trump, which is ironic because you’re Latina.
I thought people would be commenting more about that, but actually people paid more attention to Dora. They didn't really give any shout outs to my Melania and they ended up using the take where I improvised a lot for the actual show. I can guarantee you will see Melania again in episode two.
How did you get into the arts?
I always did musical theater growing up. That’s why I feel sketch comedy came so easy to me. I've been doing characters since I was little but not really knowing I was doing impressions. My mom always said she knew I was going to be a comedian when Family Matters would come on and I would imitate Steve Urkel. That was my first impression. From there I just honed my craft by attending Loyola Marymount University, while I was there I was also able to study abroad in both Russia and Germany; studying at the Moscow art theatre school while in Russia, and taking classical voice and opera studies while in Germany.
Did you ever audition for SNL?
Almost. What's so crazy is that in middle school I would stay up and watch both MADtv and SNL at the same time. I always liked MADtv more, but then it got cancelled so I thought, “I guess I’ll try getting on SNL instead.” SNL was interested after they saw me in the 2016 CBS showcase and they reached out. But nothing official ever happened. Luckily, I got an audition for MADtv a month later, all within the last year.
And you would've been the first Latina cast member on SNL.
That was the plan, but it just never happened. I guess MADtv was just meant to be.