A Catoosa County sign language interpreter had a pretty eventful weekend after she auditioned for a small role on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and was then featured in a digital sketch that aired Saturday night, Dec. 3.
Jodi Upton, a long-time sign language interpreter in the community currently working at Heritage High School, says she was informed of the opportunity by a friend in New York, and before she knew it, she was flying to the Big Apple to take part in the long-running sketch comedy show.
"I got an email saying that SNL was looking for an interpreter for a sketch after a friend in New York gave them my name," Upton said. "They sent me some lyrics and asked me to send a video of myself signing the lyrics and that they would show their director. I did, and then got an email later that afternoon saying they'd like to use me."
Before accepting the job, Upton says, she made sure she was being cast as an actual interpreter.
"If they were going to be doing a fake deaf person thing, then I wouldn't have taken the job because that would be stealing a job from a deaf actor," she said. "I was assured that was not the case, so I took the job."
Upton says she flew out of Chattanooga to New York at 7 a.m. Friday and spent most of the day at the studio shooting the sketch before returning home early Saturday morning.
"It was an amazing experience, everyone was ridiculously nice to me," Upton said.
The sketch was a 1990s-themed one called "The Christmas Candle" (https://youtu.be/_L5Xkb78KxY), featuring SNL regulars Vanessa Bayer, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, and the night's host, Emma Stone. The musical sketch poked fun at a group of women who re-gift candles as last minute Christmas presents.
Upton says she had fun with the costuming, the great people, and even managed to run into a couple of the cast members.
When the sketch aired during Saturday night's episode, Upton says her Facebook page and phone blew up with congratulations from friends and family.
In addition to interpreting in the Catoosa County School System, Upton also interprets for theatre performances at the Catoosa County Colonnade.
Her adventurous weekend was kind of humorous considering her oldest daughter is currently away studying musical theater in Oklahoma.
"It's ironic that Arlena is away at theater school," Upton said. "She's dying to get to New York City, and I get a paid acting gig there before her."
Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.