03 Sparks

  • Find the bright side When diagnosed with leukemia as a teen, Vanessa and family turned to humor for comfort. It’s a creative ability she subsequently turned into a career—making light of negative experiences.
  • Embrace your day job Before joining SNL, Vanessa interned at Sesame Street and Late Night with Conan O’Brien and worked at an ad agency, among other jobs. She’s mined the experiences for material ever since.
  • Trust your instincts When you’re on the right creative path, you’ll feel it, and success will flow from there. Vanessa found her creative calling in college and has followed that passion ever since
  • Be kind Vanessa is the rare comedian who can get laughs without giving offense. Vanessa’s good-natured disposition has no doubt helped her win over both audiences and industry advocates.
  • Work super hard By the time Vanessa got her big break, she’d been honing her stand-up routine and improv chops for years. The discipline has paid off: SNL writing sessions are infamous all-nighters and the show’s breakneck pace only lets up on Sunday.
  • Practice mindfulness Deeply focused awareness can help set the table for flash insights. Vanessa regularly meditates, practices yoga and exercises. It all helps her remain in the moment to react quickly and naturally in improv and writing sessions.
  • Celebrate play The best creative work actually comes out of the mindsets and activities of play. Embrace it as such, and, as Vanessa says, “Appreciate the fact that you’re having so much fun.