A version of this story about Aidy Bryant first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Aidy Bryant is the latest entry in one of the most robust groups of Emmy nominees in television history: “Saturday Night Live” performers who’ve been nominated over the course of the show’s 43 seasons on the air.
“SNL” is the most-nominated series of all time, with 252 total nominations, 80 of them for its performers. Of its 21 nominations this year, nine are for performers, equaling the record total it set last year. In fact, over the last decade it has amassed 53 acting nominations, making this the golden age for “SNL” performers in the eyes of Emmy voters.
“There is an uncertainty on ‘SNL’ that can be kind of jarring and can shake you up,” said Bryant, who received her first acting nomination on the show this year. (She was previously nominated for writing a song for the show.) “But I also think, and maybe the proof of this is in all the different nominations for the show, that it makes you a hard-ass performer and writer and producer, because you’ve been through a lot of challenges.”
This year’s roster of nominees: Alec Baldwin and Kenan Thompson in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category; Bryant, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category; and Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Tina Fey and Tiffany Haddish in the guest actor and actress categories.
Bryant and Thompson are first-time performing nominees, and Bryant said she understands the import of joining a roster of “SNL” nominees that goes back decades to Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Gilda Radner.
“Part of the reason I started doing sketch comedy and improv is that I just loved the ensemble, and so to be nominated as a supporting performer is really really cool, and I’m totally blown away,” she said. “I like to think that I contribute through working together and encouraging the other cast members, so it feels like a nice little pat on the back for that stuff.”
The cast members are nominated for their work throughout the season, but it’s safe to say that Bryant probably sealed the deal with the Chadwick Boseman-hosted episode, in which she acted in live sketches but also appeared in two pretaped segments, one a mock Nike commercial and the other a Cardi B/Aidy B music video.
“I had written the two pretapes, which is kind of a no-no at SNL, because we shoot the pretapes on Friday and it’s impossible to be in two places at the same time,” she said. “That was one of my hardest weeks on the show, because I was editing and acting and rehearsing — between Thursday and Friday, I probably worked 36 hours.” (That Sunday, FYI, she had to fly to Chicago for a funeral.)
The likeliest winner among the SNL nominees is probably McKinnon, who has taken home the Emmy for the last two years in a row. “I’ve been with her both years that she’s won, and those were some of the most exciting, exhilarating nights of my life,” said Bryant, who shares an office with McKinnon at SNL. “We see how hard each other works. We shed tears, we hold each other in the hard times. So it was really really cool that we were both nominated.”
But will it be as thrilling if her friend Kate wins again, considering that Bryant herself is a nominee? “Yes!” she said. “Of course! I feel like someone let me into a place that I shouldn’t be, and I’m just happy to be here.”
To read more of TheWrap’s Down to the Wire issue, click here.