Vance was on SNL for just one season, in 1985. According to the “LA Times”, she was the show’s first black female cast member. She also might’ve been the first out lesbian in the cast. Vance was in a relationship with a woman, Jones Miller, when she died of breast cancer in 1994 at the age of 35. In her obituary, the “New York Times” euphemistically called Miller her “companion.” The “LA Times” didn’t mention Miller at all.
A “Mother Jones” profile of Vance from 1985 doesn’t mention her sexuality. But The New Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book says Vance’s “open lesbianism and feminism seem to have made her taboo on talk shows.”
She sometimes played gay characters, like “lesbian recruiter” Bryn Mawr Smith Radcliffe Vassar (though apparently not on SNL):
It’s not completely clear to what extent Vance was out, and a rep from SNL hasn’t yet returned Shift’s request for comment on the issue. But from the evidence above, it is clear she was funny.
h/t Taji Senior.
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Danitra had the bad luck of being in one of SNL’s “transitional” casts, so she didn’t get the acclaim she deserved at the time. Her season was when Lorne Michaels had just returned to the show from a 5-year absence and brought an all-new cast along with him, and that year was mostly a mess. It’s an era SNL doesn’t like to dwell on, so Danitra doesn’t get her proper place in TV history.
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