By Marcus Jones
August 26, 2020 at 02:00 PM EDT
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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

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Even though she had been working at The Daily Show With Trevor Noah for over a year, writer X Mayo was still cautious to share what would become one of her most successful jokes of the season because she thought it would get her fired.

Speaking to a panel consisting of Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show), Sam Jay (Saturday Night Live) Kristen Bartlett (Full Frontal With Samantha Bee), and Amber Ruffin (Late Night With Seth Meyers)as part of EW's late-night Emmy nominee roundtable, Mayo asked: "Remember when Meghan Markle was like ‘Y’all too racist, I’m out,’ right?"

She had not been on that particular headline, but because the show's writers had the freedom to pitch on every segment, "I was in rehearsal, and as Trevor was talking — he was talking about the Meghan Markle story — I had turned to a Black dude, Christian, who’s a producer, and I was like, ‘Nah, she looked at Harry and she was like “This n— need to get a job,” that what happened,’ and he laughed and I said, ‘Aww. this is it.’"

After getting the green light from one of the executive producers, Mayo pitched the joke to host Trevor Noah, who added it to the segment, and the thought I’m not going to get fired finally ran through her head, "I was so shocked."

The clip went viral that week, and Mayo had friends texting her asking, "‘Did you write that joke that Trevor said?" The moment had become even bigger for her knowing that people were able to hear her voice through Noah's delivery of the joke. "The way I talk, sometimes on paper it doesn’t hit, but when I say it, and you know I’m saying it, it hits, and it did," she shared. "Trevor said n— on the air and everybody reposted it!"

It was important for the writer as well to recognize the unique position she was in working with Noah. "The reason why I said it, too, is not only is Trevor the only one that can make this joke, Trevor has to make this joke, and when it got so much love, and I got so much love in the office... It was very good to know I had gotten so much better, and I grew so much as a writer to get to that point."

After moderator and EW executive editor Sarah Rodman led a quick support circle to calm Mayo's fears of being fired, Thede took a moment to tell her, "Not only do you deserve to be in that room, not only are you extremely talented, but this business will have you feel like you don’t belong, and anybody who makes you feel that way will not be around much longer because things are changing."

Thede added, "I can tell you right now that people who do not listen to voices that don’t sound like them, people who discount voices that don’t sound like them are not long for this business and they’re not going to stay in these jobs very long if I have anything to do with it. And guess what? I do."

Watch the video clip above.

For more Emmys scoop, listen to EW’s The Awardist podcast — interviews with Andre Braugher, Regina King, Ted Danson, and more!

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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

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