A Day in Her Life: Ego Nwodim Shares What Really Goes Down Backstage at Saturday Night Live

The day before she slayed on a return episode of Saturday Night Live, Ego Nwodim hosted a dance party for one and inhaled a lot of jelly beans. She gives E! News all the sweet details.

By Sarah Grossbart Mar 31, 2021 1:00 PMTags
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Some people have jobs so cool we'd actually enjoy attending their marathon Zoom meetings. Even the ones that could totally have been an email. 

Not to say we don't cherish our all-important responsibility of bringing you every last piece of need-to-know information about the casts of Bridgerton and The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, but we don't have our own glam squad or a Rolodex filled with famous names, now do we? 

But the impossibly cool people we'll be profiling in E! News' latest series totally do. Plus access to things like private drivers, designer garb and the type of professional titles we'd drop with wild abandon at parties, dinner dates or while chatting with the barista at Starbucks. Welcome to A Day in the Life...

We'd say our first contributor needs no introduction, but she literally gets one each week courtesy of the announcers at Saturday Night Live. Part of the NBC mainstay's cast since 2018, Ego Nwodim was promoted to regular last fall, her literal LOL characters such as Edith Puthie and L'evanka Trump making the University of Southern California alum an indispensable part of the team. 

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As you might imagine, it's a dream gig for the 33-year-old veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade, who looked forward to the sketch show's Maya Rudolph-hosted March 27 return as eagerly as all of us stuck at home. 

"I love, love, love my castmates so much," she raved. "Honestly, every time we go on break we're all very much in need of a break. But then at the same time, I'm so excited to see my cast members again when we're back. It truly does feel like we get little snippets of a summer break, like we're back in school or something. And then it's like, 'I can't wait to see my friends!'"

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

This past weekend, those pals included alum like Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch and Martin Short, who popped in to play Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. As for Ego, she brought back an old favorite, Edith Puthie, for the cast's all-too-real "Boomers Got the Vax" video. 

Now she's delivering the goods on what went down behind the fanny pack-adorned middle-aged dance moves, with the cast shooting all pre-taped segments at a Brooklyn studio on Fridays in between blocking rehearsals for Saturday's live sketches. "I've had Fridays where I'm picked up at 6 a.m. to go to Brooklyn to shoot a little bit, to then get picked up to go back to 30 Rock and then back to Brooklyn because I have to shoot something else," she admitted. "And then maybe back to my apartment to then find out I still have to go back to 30 Rock at the end of the evening to do cold open. This was a very chill Friday." 

Sooooo, live from our New York offices (read: apartments), it's Ego's Friday night. (And all the hours before that, too.)

9:55 a.m.: Quite the wake-up call. Though Ego was able to sleep in on Friday, March 26 ("Thats a lucky Friday—sometimes I'm having to wake up at 5:30 a.m."), she wasn't able to partake in her usual ease-into-the-day routine. "I sorta do this thing when I wake up and I just allow myself to be in bed for a half an hour to an hour and just, you know, check emails," she explained. "I journal and meditate and pray."

But on this particular morning, she continued, "I think my alarm went off at 9:50-something and I had a text from my landlord being like, 'Is it okay to come over right now?' So I scrambled out of bed and put pants on and hid my dirty laundry and that's how this day got started."

10:00 a.m.: With her landlord and two other maintenance men clattering around trying to fix the air conditioning in the bedroom of her new-ish Brooklyn apartment ("It's loud as f--k and hard to sleep"), Ego also skipped her standard breakfast. "I'd been keeping up my routine as far as making myself have a bowl of oatmeal or a granola bar pretty well all season and I feel like this was one of the few times this season I broke that," she explained.

Though she did serve herself a slice of peace. Having committed to re-reading The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom for her March 10 birthday, "the last chapter and a half I hadn't finished," she said. "So while they were in here doing that I was like, well, I can't meditate so I had that little moment."

12:00 p.m. Fine, she'll do the laundry. "This is so abnormal for a Friday for me," she noted of having her entire morning and afternoon off. "So I ended up doing some of that laundry that I hid. I was like, well, now that you hid it in an unusual place, you need to take it out and actually do it." 

Ego Nwodim

1:00 p.m. Though she skipped lunch ("This is embarrassing," she admitted of grazing on jelly beans throughout her day instead) Ego fed herself by watching a few episodes of Demi Lovato's new YouTube documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil. "It was very heavy," she said of the four-part series. "I don't think of myself as a naive person, but then I truly live in a different world. I do really enjoy watching documentaries because it's such an interesting foray into other people's lives." 

3:10 p.m. Thanks, David! Having showered ahead of her 3:15 pickup time, the comedian got dressed in a "pecan"-hued sweatsuit, a gift from recent host Dan Levy. (See, David, durable and elegant can totally go hand-in-hand.) 

Presents from each week's host are fairly common, said Ego, "I'd say at least half of them do." Bridgerton's Regé-Jean Page ordered Shake Shack for the cast! Just one slight snag: "I was like, 'This is an easy Friday,' and then right as I was about to walk out the door, I got hair oil on the sweatsuit. So then I spent 10 minutes trying to get that out." 

3:45 p.m. New York City traffic a little lighter thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Ego zipped from her apartment in Brooklyn to SNL's studio at 30 Rockefeller Center in 30 minutes. There, she got a quick temperature check outside the elevator banks ("Someone gives a different security guard an okay to give you a wristband to say essentially you have had your temperature taken and you're not running a fever"), then heads to the building's newly installed clinic for her rapid COVID test.

"I personally get tested Mondays; Wednesdays for our table read; Thursday, I get a lab test done; Friday, I either get tested at Brooklyn or at 30 Rock; and Saturday we get tested," she detailed. "So I get tested five times a week." 

Ego Nwodim

4:15 p.m. All clear! Her fourth test of the week negative, she settled into her dressing room, scrolling through Society6 to find frames for the prints she ordered last fall and has left lying face down on a high shelf since then.

Then she popped over to see office neighbors Heidi Gardner and Bowen Yang for a quick chat. "I always check in with Heidi and Bowen," she shared. "Sometimes Bowen and I will just knock on our wall because our walls are paper thin." 

Ego Nwodim

5:26 p.m. Party in the city where the heat is on... Though Ego passed on a suggested birthday trip to Miami due to corona concerns, she gamely suits up as a spring breaker for the week's "Snatched! Vaxed! or Waxed!" cold open. 

The 18-minute blocking session turned out to be the highlight of the day, as she talked with Chloe Fineman, Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor, Beck Bennett, Heidi and Chris Redd about social media and the stress of posting thoughts and photos that hundreds of thousands of fans will see. "It was cool to see everyone because Chris has not been at blocking for the last several months because Kenan [Thompson] and Chris have both been away shooting Kenan," she said. So chatting about the new "Pillow Face" filter "felt like old times."

While socializing with people who are professionally clever can sometimes feel exhausting, "What's really great about my castmates is I feel like there's some sort of chemistry there where we all know the vibe," she noted. "You don't have try to force funny into the conversation. We all know that because we all are confident in our ability to be funny and make people laugh." 

Will Heath/NBC

5:45 p.m. Before heading to Brooklyn to film the incredibly on point "Boomers Got the Vax" video, she headed over to wardrobe for a quick, 25-minute fit session. Costume designer Tom Broecker always has a few options for each sketch, she noted, but is open to her thoughts as well. 

"It's kind of like this marrying of the minds where he has these ideas of what you should be wearing, but he also leaves room for your comfort or your taste and so it's really cool that way," she said. That day's biggest decision revolved around "trying to decide what we thought Beyoncé's publicist would wear." 


7:40 p.m. About that light traffic...arriving to the Brooklyn studio after a 90-minute car ride (and her second temperature check of the day), she was delighted to find the "incredible" team of PAs left her standard Starbucks order in her dressing room: Venti peppermint tea and a Grande chai latte with almond milk. "That made me feel loved!"

And—after a day mainly spent snacking on Dylan's Candy Bar jelly beans—she was even more thrilled when an assistant texted about dinner. "By the time they ask if I want to eat, I'm like, 'Yes, I've got ideas,'' she recalled. She requested a pappardelle pasta with honey braised short rib ragu, side of spinach and the soup of the day from nearby Italian spot Piccante. "With my order I said in parentheses, 'Yes, please surprise me, it doesn't matter what it is.'"

Ego Nwodim

9:07 p.m. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Returning from a session of hair and makeup, she found her Piccante order and no utensils. A helpful PA went on the hunt for a spoon, "But in the meantime because I felt it was going to take them awhile, I was, like, sipping it out of the cup, basically," she said. "And I was like, this is fine also." 

10:15 p.m. Having filled an hour of down time slurping down soup and catching up with a friend on FaceTime ("We'd been playing phone tag"), she reported to set to get her wig on and reprise her role as Edith Puthie. While she was in and out in less than 45 minutes, the rest of her coworkers "didn't wrap until, like, 2:00 a.m." 

Kyle Dubiel/NBC

11:00 p.m. Brunch is never a bad idea. A relatively early night, she managed to change back into her own clothes, tidy up her dressing room ("I always feel weird leaving a mess") and arrive home before midnight on the hunt for a nightcap. "I ended up having a mimosa," she revealed. "I was like, 'Oh, I could have a cocktail right now,' and I just got really into making Diablos. And then I remembered I had run out of tequila." Craving something citrusy, she almost just poured some orange juice "and then I remembered I had an open bottle of champagne in my fridge." 

11:45 p.m. Her late hours often find her chatting with friends back in Los Angeles, but on this particular Friday, Ego enjoyed her own company. "I had a little dance party by myself because I do that sometimes," she said of rocking out to "Studio" by ScHoolboy Q and "Oh honey" by Delegation. "Those two songs don't go together at all, but that's what I was doing."  

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12:30 a.m. With a noon call time on Saturday, "I was like, 'It's time to go to bed," she recalled of cutting off the dance session after roughly 45 minutes. Not that she's complaining about working through the weekend. "My favorite thing about this job is the people and the relationships we're fostering while going through this highly unique situation together," she explained. "We've built such a camaraderie that I think no one can take away from us."

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