Chadwick Boseman was a recognizable performer even before his Marvel debut but, after the success of Black Panther, the actor rose fast to superstardom. The 42 star seemingly became one of the biggest movie stars in the world overnight, and his superhero flick became a cultural phenomenon. Shortly after, the actor hosted Saturday Night Live in one of the most memorable episodes in recent memory. Apparently, we have Leslie Jones to thank for the iconic installment, because she was the one that convinced him to appear on the network mainstay.
The veteran comedian opened up about her time with the sketch show that made her famous and her tenure on it during an interview with People. The Ghostbusters star explained that it was important to her that the show be welcoming towards Black hosts, especially considering SNLs complicated history when it comes to diversity. This welcoming attitude played a big role in how she convinced Boseman to appear on the show at the height of his fame. She said:
I got him because I saw him at a Black Panther after party. I was like, 'Dude, you've got to do SNL and we'll take care of you.’ A lot of Black guests came because of what we were doing there.
The result was an incredible episode, which included many memorable sketches. Popular skits like an installment of “Black Jeopardy” with Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa and a hilarious superhero-inspired parody centered around the Wakanda Forever salute were featured. SNL is a famously high-pressure environment, but the 21 Bridges actor navigated the show and the humor seamlessly. He truly was a jack-of-all-trades, able to effectively deliver a great comedic performance that stands firmly alongside much of his other celebrated work.
Leslie Jones’ experience at SNL and her experience working with the Get on Up star is one of many stories told in her new memoir, Leslie F*cking Jones. She previously said that she aims to be very open and honest in her autobiographic account of her life as a Black, female comic, who's navigating post SNL-life as a successful stand-up. She also talks about her bond with Kenan Thompson, who she felt a kinship with as one of the only other African American cast members on the show. Among the points made is their shared goal to have more Black performers featured on the NBC show.
Securing Chadwick Boseman as an SNL host clearly meant a lot to her, as she mentions the moment within such a personal story. Boseman died at 43 from colon cancer in 2020, but all of his performances, including his week with SNL, still remain in the public consciousness. Despite that fact that he'd given so many serious performances, Leslie Jones saw his comedic potential, and he delivered. It was a major get for the NBC staple, which was able to feature a major star during an incredibly significant cultural moment. I think the show, and the world, is grateful these two met at that Black Panther after-party.
Fans of the late actor can revisit his iconic performance in Marvel Studios' Black Panther, which is available to stream now with a Disney+ subscription. You can also check his incredible hosting stint on Saturday Night Live, as it's streamable for Peacock subscribers.