Saturday Night Live is trying to stay optimistic in the new year, with NBC announcing the stars for the show's first 2022 episode on Thursday. West Side Story standout Ariana DeBose will serve as the host, while Roddy Ricch will perform during the Saturday, Jan. 15 episode. This is the first time on SNL for both stars.
DeBose gives a show-stopping performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, which is now in theaters. She also stars in the Apple TV+ comedy Schmigadoon! alongside SNL cast member Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key. DeBose also has over a decade of Broadway experience, having starred in Bring It On, Hamilton, Les Miserables, A Bronx Tale, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Audiences can bet that although she isn't the musical guest, Lorne Michaels and the SNL writers are going to put her singing talent to good use in sketches.
Ricch's appearance on the show comes after the release of his second album, Live Life Fast, which topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Ricch's first album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, was a big hit in 2019, topping the Billboard 200 album chart. His hits include "Late at Night," "4 Da Gang," "Tip Toe," and "The Box." In 2020, he shared the Grammy for Best Rap Performance for "Racks in the Middle" with Nipsey Hussle and Hit-Boy.
SNL plans to have new shows on Jan. 22 and Jan. 29 as well. Guests and musical performers for these episodes were not announced. NBC also said the rest of the season will streal live on Peacock at the same time as the broadcast at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday nights.
The DeBose episode will be the first attempt at doing a full show at Rockefeller Center since the Dec. 18 holiday episode. Due to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in New York City, there was no audience and only Kenan Thompson and Michael Che were on set. Guest Paul Rudd was still there, as were Tom Hanks and Tina Fey who were there to welcome Rudd to the "Five-Timers Club." Charli XCX canceled her performance, but she still appeared in one of the pre-recorded sketches filmed before the rest of the cast was sent home. Candace Bergen, Jimmy Fallon, and Jon Hamm were reportedly going to make surprise appearances as well. The Jan. 15 episode will also be the first without writer Anna Drezen, who joined the show in 2016.