Why Cecily Strong Kept Her "SNL" Exit a Big Secret

The beloved 'Saturday Night Live' cast member made an abrupt exit over the weekend.

If you've watched an episode of Saturday Night Live over the past eight years, you know Cecily Strong as a force. A master of characters, funny accents, and comedic timing, Strong has regularly been at the front and center of the most memorable sketches and Weekend Update guest spots. But, that all came to end this past weekend when the cast member unexpectedly bid farewell to SNL after 11 seasons on the show.

Strong's exit came as an abrupt shock to fans who had no idea she had any intentions of leaving the late-night show. Of course, there were rumors she might leave, like her fellow co-stars Kate McKinnonAidy BryantPete Davidson, and more did at the end of last season.

But, Cecily stuck it out until the Dec. 17 episode, hosted by Elvis star, Austin Butler… and she didn't reveal her big secret until just hours before the show started.

In a new Instagram photo posted on Dec. 19, Strong tried to level with her fans about why she kept her exit hush-hush, explaining that making her move public would have added even more pressure on what was already a very emotional decision for her.

Strong wrote in the post:

"My heart is bursting. I have a lot of big huge life changing love to unpack, so this is what I can say tonight. 💙

Ten and a half years ago I got my dream job. The first actual work day I tried to be very cool and make it look like I knew what i was doing and I was supposed to be there. I left that night around 11 after saying goodbye to everyone. I got stuck wandering around the building because none of the elevators went to the first floor and I was trying so hard to avoid having to go back upstairs to ask for help because I'd already said goodbye!!! I think I went to every floor trying to figure out if there was another exit I was missing. I might have even gone into a stairwell. I ended up going back upstairs and my soon-to-be great friend Colin Jost helped me out and walked me over to the secret night time elevator. It felt as impossible to leave that night as it does now. And my great friend Colin Jost ended up helping me again, this time by getting Elvis to sing me off (thank you Austin Butler you absolute kind and generous dreamboat). I'm sorry I've been a little quiet about it publicly. I didn't want the extra pressure on something already so emotional for me. And I'm so grateful I got to have these wonderful past six shows to help me ease into it and get to meet and laugh and probably overly hug Molly, Marcello, Devon, and Michael who I think are not only brilliantly funny but really great humans. I am ready to go, but I'll always know home is here. I've had the time of my life working with the greatest people on earth."

If you watched Strong's farewell episode, you were probably just as emotional as she was as Butler played her out by singing Elivs Presley's holiday classic "Blue Christmas." Strong can be seen holding back tears as her fellow castmates joined her on stage for one final bow.

During the Weekend Update segment, Strong also got a moment to revisit her hilarious character Cathy Anne for the very last time.

In an earnest moment, Strong seemed to break her chain-smoking, degenerate character as she said: "I had a lot of fun here and I feel really lucky that I got to have so many of the best moments of my life in this place with these people that I love so much. I guess take that with a grain of salt being that I have addiction issues."

Strong's career is seemingly on the up-and-up, with her appearing in Verizon commercials, her Apple TV show Shmiggadoon! (co-starring Keegan Michael-Key), and a familiar-sounding movie that's currently in pre-production: Garfield.

Thanks for the late-night laughs, Cecily!

Faye Brennan
Faye is the Chief Content Officer of Galvanized Brands, overseeing all editorial content for Eat This, Not That!, Best Life, and other brands. Read more
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