Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri says impersonating Barbara Walters was ‘such an honor’

American Age Official

Cheri Oteri, who impersonated Barbara Walters during her five-year run on Saturday Night Live, paid tribute to the pioneering journalist after Walters died at the age of 93.

Appearing on CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live countdown special with cohosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper, the comedian revealed her original plans to come out with a new Walters bit. Oteri had previously reprised her Walters SNL impression when Cohen and Cooper hosted CNN’s 2020 New Year’s bash three years ago.

“I was gonna do a bit tonight as Barbara having her own podcast and promoting it… She could’ve probably had a podcast ’cause there’s no modern news medium that she didn’t evolve with or help create,” Oteri said. “She was such a part of the fabric of my childhood. For every newsworthy memory, she was there.”

Oteri then recalled SNL asking her to portray Walters. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is such a big responsibility,'” she said. “I didn’t want to do it, but then I was like, ‘Wait a second. That would be such an honor.’ So I studied her like I’d never studied somebody before.”

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, from left: Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Colin Quinn, Cheri Oteri, (1998), 1975-. ph: Uli Rose/ TV Guide / ©NBC / courtesy Everett Collection.; Media Personality Barbara Walters attends An Evening With The Hosts Of "The View" at The Paley Center for Media on April 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, from left: Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Colin Quinn, Cheri Oteri, (1998), 1975-. ph: Uli Rose/ TV Guide / ©NBC / courtesy Everett Collection.; Media Personality Barbara Walters attends An Evening With The Hosts Of "The View" at The Paley Center for Media on April 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, from left: Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Colin Quinn, Cheri Oteri, (1998), 1975-. ph: Uli Rose/ TV Guide / ©NBC / courtesy Everett Collection.; Media Personality Barbara Walters attends An Evening With The Hosts Of “The View” at The Paley Center for Media on April 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

Uli Rose/ TV Guide / ©NBC / courtesy Everett Collection; Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic Cher Oteri as Barbara Walters; Barbara Walters

“Then to have her blessing and be on The View, I was just in awe,” Oteri added of the time she appeared next to the real Walters on the daytime talk show. “She broke every journalistic barrier for women, and here she is asking me, ‘Cheri, how do you do me?'”

She continued, “I wasn’t ready for that question… I just blurted out, ‘Well, um, usually, Barbara, when you do an interview you usually give three compliments and then go in for the kill.'”

An example she gave Cohen and Cooper in jest was, “You’re a New York Times best-selling author, you’re an accomplished and celebrated concert pianist, and a three-time Academy Award–winning actor… Why the porn?”

Walters died Dec. 30 at her home in New York City.

Gilda Radner had previously impersonated the broadcast journalism legend on SNL in ongoing “Baba Wawa” sketches, which Walters admitted to initially hating in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. It was only when her daughter, Jacqueline Dena Guber, told her to “lighten up” about it that she did.

Walters later appeared on SNL‘s “Weekend Update” in 2014 and spoofed herself in celebration of her retirement from the industry she helped shape. “This is my real voice,” she said, before shifting into a fake accent to say, “Hello, I’m Baba Wawa.”

Watch Oteri honor Walters on CNN in the video above.

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