Simone Shepherd originally caught our eye with her hilarious VINE and Youtube videos (alongside Torrei Hart). And any time there's a fabulous fresh face, we're all over it.
Find out what the best fake Yonce out there told us about what really went down inside those secret black comedienne "SNL" auditions, why this is a big damn deal, who HER fave funny gals are, and what's up next for Simone inside....
She recently gave us that hilarious "Drunk As F*ck" parody after originally catching our attention on VINE and those extra shade worthy & amusing "Basketball Wives" spoofs. And now, we've finally had an all-out dish session with comedienne Simone Shepherd.
The L.A. based former "Hell Date" star was one of the few & the proud YBF chicks who were given the opportunity to audition for a spot carved out for a much needed black woman on "SNL" recently. While the sketch comedy show eventually the talented Sasheer Zamata, Simone (who has amassed millions of VINE followers) is still gaining all types of notoriety.
The funny gal tells TheYBF.com,"For reasons that need not be said [not getting the part has been] a blessing. Things happen the way they are supposed to happen and it is absolutely an awesome thing for my career.”
Simone dished to us that only 7-8 women were originally slated to try out, but that number jumped to 12 due to all the publicity.
So who would HER pick for the "SNL" slot have been (besides herself of course)...and what REALLY went down inside those controversial auditions? Well, one thing that DIDN'T happen was competitive cattiness. Gotta love YBF chicks who support each other.
Check out our interview below.
On auditioning for SNL:
Simone: “It was so amazing, like honestly, just as a fan of SNL for years and someone who does comedy, it was amazing just to step on the actual floor of SNL. You get on the eighth floor and you're at 30 Rock and you go past the page desk. It was just an awesome experience. Everyone was really nice. A few of us girls, especially the LA girls a few of us knew each other. What I hear normally when people get into SNL they go into the dressing room, they're quiet and they shut the door. But we were praying together before and standing in the hallway towards the end. We were laughing and joking. It was so much camaraderie and it was good, I think, for them at SNL to see us like that because you know we're black women so we were out laughing, thanking God, and being how we are and it was just a really good experience.”
“We all went out to eat afterwards and we laughed. We were all just so happy to be there. This is winning! It's like being a black female whose nominated for an Oscar and you're up for best actress. It makes you feel like this is something they don't even be wanting us for. So to just be here at the ‘Oscars’ and getting nominated, whoever wins, we're all here! That was the attitude. That was the motivation behind how we were operating. We went in there. We chose the ideas and the plan was to show them that we are here in the world, we're funny, we're talented and stop trying to play us.
On landing the controversial audition: “The SNL process is usually so private, I think this is the most public audition I think they've ever had. They had a rep contact me to do the initial showcase and from what I'm hearing they had heard about me and then did there research from my Vine following. They really liked me, so they wanted me to come in and audition. When I got there there I didn't know who was going to be at the audition but being in the comedy world I knew that Breesha Webb was going to be there and Gabrielle Dennis. A lot of people don't know that (Dennis) is funny because she plays such a serious character on ‘The Game.’ I started doing improv with her years ago. So it was good and refreshing to see people who I also believe are very funny to actually be at the process as well.”
On losing out on the role: “It’s all good. I'm excited for the girls who were selected. I just pray for the girls they got in there that they can get in there and really make a difference.
On meeting the SNL cast? “The people at SNL were awesome. Lorne's right-hand sent me a beautiful email and I can honestly say that they were really good to us. Seth Meyers came around and really spoke to us individually and that was really nice and important. I talked to him before and after the process.”
On possibly being part of the writing team: “I think being a writer on SNL is a great privilege and it's just as important to me as being a cast member. It's something I would definitely consider but just being in this place in my career. I consider myself more of a Lena Dunham or Issa Rae. I want to be writing and acting and really creating my own projects. SNL is a great place for people to get in there and show their writing and show their talent and then move onto another place. Right now, I'm at a point in my comedic career where I'd like to do both so that probably wouldn't be the best option for me at this moment. But it's SNL and for a lot of people, it's a coveted spot, a coveted position but I am a person who is really on a new media wave. I'm a big fan of Issa Rae and her movement and that's more of the direction of my career.
On her audition process: “The thing about SNL is unlike a lot of traditional auditions where they give you slides or a script to read or rehearse or interact with another cast member or potential cast member. It's not like that. It's really more up to you. So we go in there displaying our best work. So as far as writing or performing our materials, it's really up to us. All They do is say hey here's the time, come in and here's the platform. That's it. I chose to do Donna Brazile. I Did Beyoncé of course. I do Beyoncé quite often. I even did Whoopi. I did a lot of original characters like Nicki Minaj that I'm known for. Even the SNL people I know they expected me to do it because they've seen me do them. Most people did the stuff that you seen us do on the Internet so there were no surprises.”
On Sasheer Zamata (pictured above at post-audition dinner together) landing the part: “I don't know her well. I've seen her at the audition. She went after me so I was able to kind of hear her audition and I've seen her stuff online and I think that she is talented. We're all talented in different ways so I don't know which direction our what they were looking for, only they do. I feel like since they chose her, that's the direction they feel like a lot of their stuff is going in. She was a great girl. I didn’t get to speak to her a lot while we were there but she was just a nice girl with good energy. I can't say anything negative about her.”
On which established comediennes could have been on SNL? “That is such a hard question. Kim Coles. I really think that she would've been excellent on SNL. Thank God there were platforms like "In Living Color" and that's why I love and respect the fact that I'm working so closely with the Wayans. Even with their sister Kim, they made a platform whether you're black or white, if you're funny come in and perform, so I appreciate that. And Marlon early on recognized that I was funny and said ‘Hey, come work with me.’ It just goes to show that funny is funny. And I will help you get your voice out there if your funny. I honestly think that the women who could have been on SNL they didn't need it! They were able to make their voice heard outside of that. But if SNL is something they want to do it should be an option. It should never be like ‘Oh well. They don't want me.’”
On who Simone would have chosen: “Ooo that is such a politically scary question for me being in the industry. I'll tell you the whispers that I've been hearing. It's what I've heard and not what I'm saying… that a lot of the girls, especially the LA girls, are quite known. Sometimes it's hard to take girls that are known and put them into a group that might not be as known as the group is. But it's kind of hard to settle in a new person into a group when there already bigger than a lot of people who are already on a platform. So if I had to choose I honestly could have chosen any of the girls. I don't want to say anything negative about her or anybody they choose. I'm getting a lot of great press and I want my work to speak for itself and I think that it is. Whether it's being on SNL or whatever it is, I want my work to speak for itself. I appreciate The YBF for posting some of my stuff. I'm getting my stuff out there so would I have chosen me? I don't know (laughs). It's kind of biased right? I don't want to say anything negative about SNL or the process. I'll let the people who are not so closely connected to it give their opinion and in a roundabout way I think you get my undertones about what I'm saying and I'm honestly am just so happy for the girls that got selected and I hope that they can get in there and have their voices being heard.”
On why SNL's decision is monumental: “It really affects us all as a community. It really is a social and political issue. It does matter that there's not a black female on the show. It does matter how funny a black girl is if she's not funny it's like she doesn't even exist. I want there to be a lot of opportunities that's why I like the YBF so much because I think it's important to show black women doing well and being just as good as our male counterparts or our white female counterparts. It's important to show that we're doing it. You guys being run by a black female, its so important for that to be known. And yes it does matter that you are black females because it makes other black females look and say ‘I can do that.’ A lot of us weren't even considering SNL because SNL was not an option. We weren't being represented were trying to work, we’re trying to hustle and make a living and you look and your like i'm not going to try and tear down the wall they won't even let me in the door to try to tear it down. Now that this opportunity happened there's some girls somewhere saying ‘Oh, I'm going to try out for that. I'm going to try in three years when I get old enough or It's one of my career goals now."
On expectations with being the only black woman on SNL: “I do agree with Don Lemon that she has to be funnier than she is black because us as black people take so much ownership over what's ours. We're not looking at her like ‘oh, she's black’ we are looking at her like ‘oh, she's funny.’ That's what matters to us don't try to appease us by hiring someone. You have to actually know and respect the fact that we are talented people and treat us as a peer not as we're just the black funny girl that you hired.”
On why it took this long for black Comediennes to be recognized: “Comedy is a boys club. From the beginning of time, comedy is something that we like to see males being funny. Traditionally, they want women to be something other than funny. This is what boys do. We sit around and tell jokes and make things funny. They don't expect women to be able to be funny without being very crass. I don't think that in this day and age that's the direction we have to go in. We have a voice. We live our lives like everyone else and we have a right to get up and express those voices but when the clubs are run by men, the shows are run by men, the networks are ran by men or even if they’re run by women and you try to get numbers, it's hard for us to get in the door and be like ‘Hey, I'm here and I'm funny.’”
On apps like Vine affecting her career path: “The fact that I have 2 million followers on vine has really opened up a door for me. I've worked with major branding companies. I've worked with Trident and Wendy’s. I worked with a lot of bigger brands based on that so I have a lot going on and I plan on developing shows and make a movement. That is really the direction of my career. I'm already in development with big people to get that stuff rolling. And in the meantime I will continue doing sketches and spoofing people because that's just something that I love to do.”
On doing Standup? “Standup is something that I really love. I'm so passionate about standup but I have yet to take that leap on the stage as a standup comedian. Although I will not say that it's something that is completely off the table. I'm interested and will probably do it in the near future. To be a standup comedian is a lot of work. It's very hard and with so much other stuff on my plate that demands my immediate attention I don't know how close maybe in the next few months. It's definitely something that's in my mind.”
Who would be with her?“I’m honestly a big fan of people that I'm very close to. Tiffany Haddish for one. I love Gabrielle Dennis. A lot of people haven't seen her comedy but she's freaking hilarious. I think Breesha Webb’s standup comedy is hilarious. Those girls are excellent. I'm a big fan of Sarah Silverman. But it's so hard since I'm such a fan of so many different comedians for different reasons. That's such a hard question so I'm going to say me Gabrielle Dennis and Breesha Webb. That's what I'm going to say.”
On what's up next for Simone:“A lot of the women I see kind of taking strides and move in the industry in entertainment news and media outlets. I like the fact that women are saying no matter what you say what I can or can't do, I can do it. So I'm starting this campaign very soon that I'm going to launch called the Press Campaign and it's about pressing forward through opposition. Can't let other people decide who you are and what you're going to be. I'm going to do a big thing like that very shortly but I definitely love the mixing of people saying, ‘Look I'm a woman but I'm not just a woman. I'm a writer. I’m this. I’m that. I'm not just a single mother but I'm able to do all these different things that you don't think I'm able to do and i'm going to tell my own story.’”
"SNL is very traditional and it's a blessing and I love it it's a great opportunity for me and whoever else was involved but personally I would like to see myself looking up and see that I have a show on ABC or doing something with HBO, that's why I'm working with ‘What's The Funny’ with Marlon Wayans. He's a great fan of mine and we do a lot of work together and we have a lot of big stuff coming. I sat down with Tyra Banks, me and her management company are developing a project for Vine. So it's great. A lot of big things are coming. I personally are looking forward to the other opportunities that are coming in my direction.”
Best of luck to the fabulous Simone!
Photos/Video: Simone's IG, YBF Correspondent: Lauren Smith