Taraji P. Henson was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and she’s starred in movies and popular TV shows for almost 20 years. But it’s the unstoppable smash Empire that finally got her to Studio 8H as the host of Saturday Night Live. As she said to the audience before breaking into song about making it, “White people finally know who I am!”
It was a given that the show would address Empire, and when Henson stepped into character as Cookie, we got the bonus of seeing her shred the friendly Sesame Street neighborhood. Mavis, the petulent left-leg of the Connectatron robot, also had plenty of Cookie in her, as did her imitation of Nicki Minaj in the coming attraction for Home 2. Do not mess with Cookie or her sketch crumbs.
But Henson has her work cut out for her, because to become the first-ever Ms. Saturday Night, she needs to best four extremely popular men—including our current leader, Michael Keaton. The Birdman star debuted with more than 52 percent, an impressive start for what’s become a very competitive field. There are no weak links. Dwayne Johnson technically plummeted, but he’s still strong and in second with 20.8 percent. Bill Hader and Martin Freeman seem to be in this for the long haul—both of them saw a slight uptick in support—leaving Chris Hemsworth as the odd man out.
Michael Keaton 52.4% (—)
Dwayne Johnson 20.8% (-51 pts)
Bill Hader 11.5% (+1)
Martin Freeman 9.9% (+3)
Chris Hemsworth 5.5% (-3)
Our rules are simple: Who was the best, most memorable SNL host this season? More specifically, who do you hope gets invited back next year? Whose hilarious episode enjoyed multiple viewings on your DVR? Whose show had your boss, your mom, and your roommate still giggling on Monday morning? It’s subjective, of course, but let’s reward the guest hosts who brought something special to the table.
So far, we’ve voted off Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, Chris Pratt, Cameron Diaz, Woody Harrelson, James Franco, Amy Adams, Jim Carrey, Kevin Hart, J.K. Simmons, Blake Shelton, Dakota Johnson, and Hemsworth.
Below, watch one representative clip from each of the five hosts, just as a small taste of their recent performances. You’re not voting on this one sketch alone; be sure to consider the entire episode. Make your pick below, and the host with the least support will be eliminated; the other four will advance to compete against Scarlett Johansson on May 1. Ultimately, we’ll dismiss the less memorable hosts and crown a new Mr. or Mrs. Saturday Night in May. Watch and vote below.
Taraji P. Henson