‘In Living Color’: Rosie Perez Received Pushback From Dancers When She Joined the Show

Since its 1990 debut, In Living Color helped to set the standard that modern episodes of TV shows like Saturday Night Live are held to. The sketch-based comedy series provided constant laughs for its fans and helped to launch the careers of some of today’s biggest stars. 

Of course, with a large cast and five high-pressure seasons of content, the set had its fair share of drama. Tens of millions of viewers tuned in every week and each performer wanted to be looking their best.

Unfortunately, some of In Living Color‘s iconic dancers felt that choreographer Rosie Perez was setting them up for failure. 

In Living Color defined sketch comedy

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At the time of its premiere, In Living Color‘s sketch style was among the first of its kind. Keenen Ivory Wayans hoped to compete against 1975’s Saturday Night Live debut by featuring a more diverse cast and pushing the envelope in terms of jokes.

The Hollywood Reporter recounts Fox’s fear of hosting such a controversial show on their network. In Living Color‘s path was fraught with pushback and censorship, but that path eventually led to an Emmy.

The show marked a new era of edgy, television comedy, and also helped to give a platform to underrated, minority talents. Many of the show’s first stars were fairly unknown at the time, but that wouldn’t last. In Living Color served as a launching pad for the careers of Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, and Jennifer Lopez, among others. 

The fame Lopez in particular gained is indicative of the show’s power. Reaching millions of people across the country, In Living Color made her a household name — despite Lopez not joining the cast until the third season. 

Perez’s Fly Girl choreography sparked set drama

Rosie Perez
Rosie Perez | Lia Toby/Getty Images

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Despite its contributions to her success, Lopez’s role as a Fly Girl was far from her favorite. As E! reports, her time on the show was filled with drama and conflict with Wayans and the show’s choreographer, Rosie Perez. 

Unfortunately for the cast and crew, the dancers’ distaste with producers began much earlier than Lopez’s third season arrival. In fact, it started after just three episodes into the series.

According to Mental Floss, Perez’s first day on set was met with backlash, as the performers felt that they were being instructed to do moves “that went against their years of training.” 

For the most part, the group seemed to move past the squabble and the Fly Girls became an iconic part of the show. Unfortunately, the tension between Lopez and Perez seemed to far outlast In Living Color, with both stars dissing the other years after the final sketch had wrapped. 

The award-winning show lasted five seasons

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Though In Living Color created a few grudges, it also created a lasting legacy. Every episode introduced iconic characters and sketch tropes — on-screen elements that would serve as comedy blueprints for years to come.

As the Grio puts it, “It created culture just as effortlessly as it commented on it.” The echoes of its influences — and the laughter it inspired — reverberates through Hollywood to this day. 

Fans of the show were teased in 2011 when a reboot was confirmed but never surfaced. Unfortunately, by rocketing each of its participants into stardom, In Living Color complicated the logistics of a reunion.