Leslie Jones to leave 'Saturday Night Live'

Leslie Jones, one of the more dynamic cast members of “Saturday Night Live,” has opted to leave the late-night mainstay after five seasons, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jones, who first joined the program as a writer and quickly became a featured player and cast member in 2014, is set to explore film projects and has a Netflix comedy special scheduled, these people said.

Jones’ departure takes place as the NBC series gets ready to launch its 45th season in September, and is part of an annual recalibration of the cast that takes place in late summer as various members examine outside opportunities and executive producer Lorne Michaels considers talent needs and contracts.

“SNL” typically often sees one or two cast members depart each year as contracts lapse. The show also usually introduces new featured players at the start of each season.

15 PHOTOS
Leslie Jones on her final season of 'Saturday Night Live'
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Leslie Jones on her final season of 'Saturday Night Live'
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Paul Rudd" Episode 1767 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leslie Jones, Colin Jost during "Weekend Update" on May 18, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Paul Rudd" Episode 1767 -- Pictured: Leslie Jones as a hand maiden, backstage in studio 8H on Saturday, May 18, 2019 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Paul Rudd" Episode 1767 -- Pictured: Leslie Jones as Whoopie Goldberg, backstage in studio 8H on Saturday, May 18, 2019 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Paul Rudd" Episode 1767 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leslie Jones, Kyle Mooney during "Leslie & Kyle" sketch on May 18, 2019 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Emma Thompson" Episode 1766 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Emma Thompson as Mrs. Vivian Hargrave and Leslie Jones as Mrs. Chantay Thomas during the "Etiquette Lesson" sketch on Saturday, May 11, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Adam Sandler" Episode 1765 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guest Shawn Mendes, host Adam Sandler, and Leslie Jones during promos in Studio 8H on Thursday, May 2, 2019 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Kit Harington" Episode 1763 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Kit Harington as Joshua, Chris Redd as Daniel, Leslie Jones as Aunt Ro, and Aidy Bryant as Aunt Patty during the "Nephew Pageant" sketch on Saturday, April 6, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Sandra Oh" Episode 1762 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leslie Jones and host Sandra Oh during the monologue on Saturday, March 30, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Idris Elba" Episode 1761 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leslie Jones as Gayle King and Kenan Thompson as R. Kelly during the "R. Kelly Interview" Cold Open on Saturday, March 9, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Halsey" Episode 1758 -- Pictured: (l-r) Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson during the "Black History Month" Presentation on Saturday, February 9, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Halsey" Episode 1758 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kate McKinnon as Nancy Pelosi and Leslie Jones as Maxine Waters during the "Women of Congress" sketch on Saturday, February 9, 2019 -- (Photo by: Steven Molina Contreras/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "James McAvoy" Episode 1757 -- Pictured: Leslie Jones during "The U.E.S." sketch on Saturday, January 26, 2019 -- (Photo by: Megan Krause/NBC/NBCU Photobank)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Rachel Brosnahan" Episode 1756 -- Pictured: (l-r) Melissa Villaseñor as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alex Moffat as Chuck Schumer, Beck Bennett as Mitch McConnell, and Leslie Jones as Maxine Waters during the "Deal or No Deal Cold Open" sketch on Saturday, January 19, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photobank)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Rachel Brosnahan" Episode 1756 -- Pictured: Leslie Jones as Tabitha during the "Tabitha" sketch on Saturday, January 19, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photobank)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Rachel Brosnahan" Episode 1756 -- Pictured: Leslie Jones as Rita Mae Johnson during the "Comedy Club" sketch on Saturday, January 19, 2019 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O'Connor/NBC/NBCU Photobank)
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Another cast member who has been seen as key to the program’s success in recent seasons, however, is poised to return. Kate McKinnon, the rubber-faced comedienne who has portrayed everyone from Hillary Clinton to Kellyanne Conway to former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will return for at least part of the next “SNL,” season, one of these people said. McKinnon is slated to take part in a Hulu dramatic series in 2020, and it remains unclear whether those duties would conflict with a season-long run.

Jones brandished a boisterous sense of humor that quickly made her a standout, whether during the show’s “Weekend Update,” where she would joust verbally with Colin Jost while telling viewers of her dating travails, or in a series of taped segments in which she appeared to be in a romance with cast member Kyle Mooney.

Jones joined the cast in her mid-to-late 40’s, making her one of the program’s oldest members. She is also one of a small group of African-American women to join the show, and her hire was seen by many as a way for the show to bring more diversity to its ranks.

Her “SNL” appearances led to other opportunities, including a chance to provide commentary for NBC’s Olympics broadcasts, and cameos on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

38 PHOTOS
Evolution of Saturday Night Live monologue set
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Evolution of Saturday Night Live monologue set
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Pictured: Steve Martin during the monologue on October 13, 1979 -- (Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Hugh Hefner during the monologue on October 15, 1977 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 11 -- Pictured: (l-r) Garrett Morris and Cicely Tyson during the monologue on February 10, 1979 -- (Photo by: Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Pictured: Malcolm McDowell during the 'Opening Monologue' on November 22, 1980 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13 -- Pictured: Host Ray Sharkey during the monologue on April 11, 1981 -- Photo by: Fred Hermansky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 11 -- Pictured: Charlene Tilton during the monologue on February 21, 1981 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13-- Pictured: Host Alec Baldwin during the monologue on February 13, 1983 (Photo by Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 6 -- Pictured: Jerry Lewis during the Monologue on November 19, 1983 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 15 -- Pictured: Host Billy Crystal during the monologue on March 17, 1984 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Pictured: Malcolm-Jamal Warner during the monologue on October 10, 1986 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 18 -- Pictured: Geena Davis during the monologue on April 22, 1989 (Photo by Raymond Bonar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 17 -- Pictured: Dolly Parton during the monologue on April 15, 1989 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 15 -- Pictured: Mary Tyler Moore during the monologue on March 25, 1989 (Photo by Raymond Bonar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 14 -- Pictured: Oprah Winfrey during the monologue on April 14, 1986 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 20 -- Pictured: Candice Bergen during the monologue on May 19, 1990 -- Photo by: Raymond Bonar/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 19 -- Pictured: Tom Hanks during the monologue on May 9, 2010 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 18 -- Pictured: Jerry Seinfeld during the monologue on April 18, 1992 (Photo by Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 17 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sharon Stone during the monologue on April 11, 1992 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 15 -- Pictured: Nancy Kerrigan onstage during the monologue March 12, 1994 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 17 -- Pictured: Steve Forbes during the monologue on April 13, 1996 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Aired 01/23/1988 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Robin Williams during the Opening Monologue on January 23, 1998. (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 25 -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Ferrell as Steven Seagal, Jackie Chan during the monologue on May 20, 2000 -- (Photo by: Mary Ellen Mathews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 19 -- Air Date 05/11/2002 -- Pictured: Host Kirsten Dunst during monologue on May 11, 2002 -- Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13 -- Air Date 03/02/2002 -- Pictured: Host Jonny Moseley during the monologue on March 2, 2002 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 4 -- Aired 10/30/2004 -- Pictured: Kate Winslet onstage during the Monologue (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 17 -- Air Date 04/10/2004 -- Pictured: Host Janet Jackson during the monologue on April 10, 2004 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Aired 12/10/2005 -- Pictured: Alec Baldwin during the monologue on December 10, 2005 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Aired 10/06/2007 -- Pictured: Actor Seth Rogen during the monologue on October 6, 2007 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 15 -- Aired 03/17/2007 -- Pictured: Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the monologue on March 17, 2007 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 22 -- Pictured: Will Ferrell during the Monologue on May 16, 2009 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 22 -- Pictured: Justin Timberlake during the Monologue on May 9, 2009 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Zooey Deschanel" Episode 1612 -- Pictured: Zooey Deschanel during the monologue on February 11, 2011-- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake Episode 1651 -- Pictured: Jimmy Fallon -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Lady Gaga" Episode 1647 -- Pictured: Lady Gaga -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Chris Hemsworth" Episode 1691 -- Pictured: Chris Hemsworth during the monologue on December 12, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Tina Fey" Episode 1746 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan during the "Opening Monologue" in Studio 8H on Saturday, May 19, 2018 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Amy Schumer" Episode 1745 -- Pictured: Host Amy Schumer during the Opening Monologue in Studio 8H on Saturday, May 12, 2018 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Adam Sandler" Episode 1765 -- Pictured: Host Adam Sandler during the "I Was Fired" Monologue on Saturday, May 4, 2019 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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