The Saturday Night Live star spent her high school years trying to fit in with everyone in her skin-baring hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. But it was ruining her self-worth.
“I was spending so much energy on something that really, no matter what I did, wasn’t changing,” Bryant, 30, tells The Cut. “And I truly got to a breaking point. I was like, ‘How much longer can I do this? Can I do this for the rest of my life?’ ”
The comedian says the moment she stopped worrying about her body was like “a switch flipping,” both for her self-esteem and her career.
“I finally was like, ‘What if I put all of that energy into just trying to like myself and focus on the things I actually want to do as opposed to this thing that’s like a made-up concept?’ And I’m not kidding, my entire life changed after I did that,” Bryant says. “Within two years, I was hired by Second City; two years later I was hired by SNL.”
“I stopped letting it be an all-day, everyday thing that defined everything that I did. And it worked.”
RELATED VIDEO: Engaged SNL Star Aidy Bryant Talks Struggling With the Word ‘Fiancé’ & Reveals She Hasn’t Started Wedding Planning Yet
Bryant quickly became a favorite in a resurgence of female stars on the sketch comedy show, along with Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong. But there were times when she felt excluded because of her size, like during a magazine photoshoot with her costars where she had to wear her own size-18 clothes.
“It was just humiliating,” Bryant says. “The other girls had racks of clothes to chose from and were wearing these thousand-dollar dresses, and I had two sacks or like one matronly mother-of-the-bride dress. Those were the first times where I was like, Something is different here and this isn’t fair. This is a f—-d-up situation, and it’s purely because of my body. Not because I’m less funny — it’s my body. It’s the only reason that I’m treated differently right now. And it lit a f—–g fire in me.”
Bryant custom-creates most of her clothes with designers, and is now working on a clothing line for women size 12-24. She feels like she has a “moral obligation” to make getting dressed an easier experience for curvy girls, as one of the few with a public platform.
“I didn’t try to get on SNL to be a body-positivity activist, but apparently just being there makes you one,” Bryant says. “It’s this weird kind of thing where you’re like, I guess I kind of am. It’s literally just not what I came here to do.”
Bryant says she’s embracing the role.
“It sounds so corny now, but representation does f—–g matter,” she says. “And I remember how as a child I was obsessed with Rosie O’Donnell even though that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but I was like, Oh my god, someone who’s a little bit like me on TV.”