Melissa Villaseñor Shares the Affirmations That Gave Her Confidence on ‘SNL’“There were so many people [on set and in the audience] and so many people performing, I would tend to shy up and get small.”
Melissa Villaseñor’s time on Saturday Night Live came to a close in September, and she’s ready to embark on her next projects with the help of some strong daily affirmations. Next up is her debut book: a self-help workbook designed to get you feeling all kinds of silly and tap into all your emotions, even the ones that have you feeling like crap sometimes. Perfectly titled Whoops…I'm Awesome: A Workbook with Activities, Art, and Stories for Embracing Your Wonderfully Awesome Self, Villaseñor’s book includes the comedian’s original artwork and silly how-tos for staples like bean and cheese burritos and is a foil to any corny self-help guides that might’ve turned you off to the genre in the past. Here, she talks about her favorite way to embrace her inner kid, the affirmations that carried her through SNL, and remembering her many, many talents.
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WM: What's invigorating you lately?
Melissa Villaseñor: My worth. I feel my worth a lot right now, like how special [I am] and what I can bring to the world. I'm feeling like every little thing has an impact, and I love that. Knowing I could make people laugh by doing a voice, I'm feeling that deeply right now [and] it goes such a long way. Not even [as] a famous person, it's just bringing joy to others. It's an honor.
WM: Can you talk about what made you want to create a self-help workbook?
MV: I had this art account on Instagram, and that has grown throughout the past five years. It's all just super personal drawings, and now they're getting more and more specific to my style. Through the years, people were like, “Can you make a book of all of these?” And it came down to, well, what's my favorite kind of book to curl up and read? I love self-help books. I just love 'em. I feel like I have a friend [when I read them]. I can just open up the page and there's something there that is a good reminder or just helps me.
But it is a silly kind of self-help book, 'cause there's funny stories. I have four chapters in there, and it's all about: How do I get to that silly side of myself, that lighter side that I love? I can get so serious, and it's too much. The first chapter is about embracing your childlike side, your kid mind, and all the things that fall under that. The second chapter is about movement, dancing, being physical, and walking. The third is mental health, affirmations, and positive self-talk. And the fourth is about helping others and volunteer work. So the drawings naturally fell under each category.
And there are moments where I'm making fun of myself, so it's not real corny. I didn't want something all positive. It's like, “No, some days I feel like poop.” And I left a lot of mistakes in there on purpose. There's a crossword puzzle, and you're supposed to find the word “rice.” And I said, “Whoops, I forgot to put that in the puzzle.” I left that in there; I wanted to be a little messy and leave mistakes and just not fix it, not make it look perfect. It just makes me laugh. I have three food recipes [laughs]. It's so stupid. There's a bean and cheese burrito. It's really silly. But then there are a lot of heartfelt pieces, like [the one with a] cookie. [It says], “Hey, some of the sweetest things crumble.” [And there are] some dark things, like I drew a skeleton lady dancing with a cactus.
WM: The book encourages adults to be more childlike. What’s your favorite way to do that?
MV: For me, it’s making things a little lighter, embracing the kid mind. When I take a bath, I definitely have bubbles in there, and sometimes I'll put it on my face and pretend I'm Santa—and I'm alone doing this. You take things a little further and just make it not so serious. I feel like [having] a lot of colors [around helps] too. I even got myself some balloons for no reason. I lean into that: How can I make a day wacky? Or sillier? More joyful? I like leaning into those things.
WM: What's an exercise or tip from your book that you regularly use in your mental fitness routine?
MV: Affirmations. That positive self-talk really goes a long way, especially if you say it with gumption. Man, I could beat myself up all day. But when I say, “Man, I am cool!” with a strong intention and a little more effort, you can feel it more.
I had to do that at SNL. There were so many people [on set and in the audience] and so many people performing, I would tend to shy up and get small. But there would be shows where I would have to tell myself—and I would tell Ego [Nwodim] and Heidi [Gardner], my good friends there—like, repeating out loud: “I am important. I am allowed to take up space.” I mean, it really helped. It helped me to take my time on air and not feel like, Oh, I gotta hurry so other people can perform. No, I am important.
I have to constantly be working at that. Some days it doesn't always work out, but I really do believe that does help. And visualizing is good to do with it. Sometimes before I go on stage, I try to visualize a little pink light that's from my heart, and it grows and allows the whole crowd to enter [the space]. It really helps. Our brains are powerful. If you visualize it and feel it and close your eyes, you're like, Man, that's some magic right there.
WM: You recently announced that you're not returning to SNL. Are there any specific affirmations that you’re focusing on as you enter this next chapter in your life?
MV: I've been saying I have a lot to offer and share with the world because it is a little scary, Like, Oh, what am I going to do now? Am I going be forgotten? Or will there be another opportunity on the way? But when I just ground myself and say, “Oh, hell no. I got a lot to offer. I am funny. I have a really great story. I do a lot of voices and singing and art. There's just an abundance of things that I could share to bring joy to people and my fans,” I'm not worried. When I say I have a lot to share and offer, I can have my own show, you know?
It's also 'cause I'm lonely, and I have a lot of time on my hands [laughs]. Sometimes people will be like, “Wow, you're doing it all. You're so multi-talented.” It's like, yeah, but I'm also a loner, and I love spending a lot of time on arts and crafts, learning new things. I've been like that since I was a little kid. I'm fine in a corner. Give me a journal and some art and music or whatever—I'm good for a long time.
WM: What role does art play in your mental fitness routine?
MV: Art is huge for me. I've been doing stand-up comedy and impressions since my late teens, and there's something about being on like that and being funny … I mean, I'm always going to be doing it, but art provides that release of whatever I'm going through emotionally that I can't share in comedy. It’s just too hard 'cause my stand-up also is best when it's joyful and it comes from that place and I'm light. I can't be too dark; my comedy isn't dark comedy. That's just not my strength, and that's fine. But with art, I've noticed that's where if I'm sensitive or I'm heartbroken or I have a breakup, that's where drawing gets so powerful.
I'm like, I'm going to draw this, and I'm going to share it on my art account. Then my sweet artist fans, they connect with it and we talk about it together. I'm loving it—it's fulfilling so much for me. I'm living my life as a comedian, so it’s not [my] full focus. But whenever I have those quiet nights by myself, I just get to it. Like, now I can quiet down and draw this drawing that I've been thinking about in the back of my mind.
WM: If you were to talk to yourself like a self-help book, what would you say right now?
MV: Get back on daily affirmations and the specific goals and start visualizing them. That’s what I was doing before SNL—I was visualizing SNL, and I kept saying, “I'm on Saturday Night Live.” And I would close my eyes and visualize myself there. So now, I'd like for me to start visualizing the next goal like that and saying it out loud and claiming it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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