Editor’s Note: The following story contains slight spoilers for the October 31 episode of “Succession.”
Fans of Instagram and Showtime sensation Ziwe — and of “Succession” — were gifted a surprise treat on Halloween when she appeared as a somewhat-adjacent version of herself named Sophie Iwobi, who roasts Jeremy Strong’s Kendall Roy and his “caucasian rich brain.” The Sophie we see on “Succession” is not unlike the persona seen on her Showtime series “Ziwe,” in which the comedian skewers white privilege with various comedy-celebrity guests, and according to a new interview with her in Variety, the role was specifically tailored to her.
“Initially it was more a Sam Bee-type, I think. They adjusted the character to be Sophie Iwobi. That’s a Nigerian name, so it was adjusted for my personality, but I really had nothing to do with the writing,” she said. “I got the script, I memorized it, showed up the day of. I improvised things, but I haven’t even seen the episode, so I can’t even tell you what made it.”
As for how she got the role, Ziwe said she actually auditioned because she’s such a fan of series creator Jesse Armstrong. “I auditioned for it. I texted my agent, and I was like, ‘I love ‘Succession.’ It’s one of my favorite shows, and I’d love to audition for the show.’ So I sent in a self-tape. It was a late-night host character, but with a different name. I got the part and Jesse called me.”
According to Ziwe, Armstrong said, “’We want to rewrite the character to be more in line with your vibe,’ and I was babbling on the phone. I was so excited. This is one of my favorite satirical writers of all time, one of the best writers in the country. It was truly such an exciting show to get to be a part of. It was like a career pinnacle for me, honestly,” she said.
As for how the “Succession” persona might mirror her own, she said, “There are elements of myself, but it’s a slight adjustment because I don’t exist in the ‘Succession’ world. It really felt like I was walking into a new universe. I felt a lot of power; I was much crueler to Kendall Roy than I would be to any of my guests, so that was really exciting. You don’t have the ramifications of a real-life billionaire being upset with you because you made him have an emotional breakdown. With that ire, it really empowered to let him have it and really roast him for his love of Lil Wayne.”