This fall, “Saturday Night Live” will debut its first out nonbinary cast member in its nearly 50-year-history: Actor and comedian Molly Kearney.

Molly Kearney

Kearney was one of four new additions announced by the famed comedy skit show on Thursday. They will join the cast for the 48th season of “SNL,” which has seen major shake-ups in its lineup over the last few months.

Kearney shared the news of their history-making casting on their Instagram account Thursday night, posting: “Head exploding!! Thanks for all the love everyone.”

Considered a rising star, Kearney is best known for their role as Fern Dannely in the Amazon Prime series “A League of Their Own.” In addition to their acting, the Los Angeles-based Kearney has traveled the country as a stand-up comic, and helps produce a monthly outdoor stand-up show, “The Big One.”

Marcello Hernandez, Michael Longfellow and Devon Walker were also revealed to be joining the show, which premieres Oct. 1.

“SNL” has a long but patchy history of LGBTQ cast members. Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance both made history in 1985, with Sweeney as the show’s first out gay cast member, and Vance as its first lesbian cast member, although she was not out at the time, reports the Advocate. Both departed after one season.

Another out queer person would not join the cast until 2012, when Kate McKinnon became the show’s first out woman to do so. The show has never had an out transgender person as part of its ensemble, and as recently as 2021, has been accused by viewers of airing “homophobic” and “transphobic” jokes.

Kearney is joining the cast at a time of major transition. Seven members of the award-winning ensemble said they would not be returning for the show’s upcoming season, including some of its most high-profile names.

McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson bid goodbye to the show in May during its season finale. In September, three more cast members said they would not be returning: Melissa Villaseñor, the show’s first Latina cast member, Alex Moffat and Aristotle Athari, the first Middle Eastern man to join the sketch ensemble.

Longtime “SNL” producer Lindsay Shookus also announced she would be leaving the series in August.

Earlier this week, creator and “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels told reporters backstage at the 74th Emmy Awards that season 48 “will be a transition year, and the change years are always difficult.”

Michaels, 77, suggested that the COVID pandemic may have contributed to some of the cast departures – “I think people might’ve left earlier, but there was no place to go.”

But, he added that it’s an “exciting” time for the show, which has been riding high in both ratings and critical acclaim in recent years. According to the Hollywood Reporter, its 2020-21 season was the most watched entertainment program on TV for adults ages 18 to 49. On Monday, “SNL” took home its sixth consecutive Emmy for outstanding variety series.

“There are new people, and things are changing, and a different generation comes to the show,” said Michaels.

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