Writing served as the launching pad for two distinct phases of Natasha Rothwell's career in comedy: first, as her initial college major, which she left to study theater and in turn, establish a name for herself in improv comedy, and later, as a writer for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975), which provided her with the clout to co-produce the Netflix comedy series "Characters" (2016-) and write for and star in the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series "Insecure" (2016-). Rothwell performed from an early age but decided to study journalism at the University of Maryland. In her freshman year, she saw a student production of "House of Blue Leaves" which reprinted Langston Hughes' "A Dream Deferred" in its program; the poem inspired Rothwell to return to acting, where she gravitated towards comedic roles. After receiving her bachelor's degree in theatre performance from the university, Rothwell dove deeply into the national improvisational scene, performing with Washington Improv Theater, Peoples Improv Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade, among many other troupes. She also began appearing in their filmed sketches, as well as short film projects for Funny or Die and CollegeHumor, in 2011. Her first network comedy appearance came soon after in an episode of "Royal Pains" (USA Network, 2009-2016). In 2013, she was hired to write for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975-), where she penned the opening monologue for host Taraji P. Henson in 2015 and earned a Writers Guild Award nomination for Comedy/Variety - Sketch Series in 2016. Rothwell left "SNL" that same year to co-create "Characters," a comedy showcase for up-and-coming comedians, including herself, to write and play numerous characters in each episode. The exposure afforded by the series led to meetings with HBO, which connected her to comedian Issa Rae's new series, "Insecure." Rothwell initially served as a writer for the show's first season before also joining its cast as Kelli, a friend to Rae's protagonist.
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