Maya Rudolph’s impression of Beyoncé has always been a Saturday Night Live highlight, starting back in 2004 when she co-hosted the fictional Prince Show alongside Fred Armisen’s Purple One. And Rudolph ushered her Queen Bey impersonation into a new decade this past weekend, playing the music icon as she buckled under the chili-pepper pressure as a guest on Hot Ones.
The SNL alum’s latest foray into the Carter-Knowles world has us thinking about all the times she’s slipped into a form-fitting sequin dress to portray pop royalty. Below, check out seven times Rudolph has played Beyoncé — or, as she affectionally calls herself in character, “‘Yoncé” — on Saturday Night Live over the years.
2004, 2005 & 2007: Maya as Beyoncé on ‘Prince Show’
Here’s where it all started: Rudolph is a glam sidekick to Armisen’s talk-show-host Prince, offering a musical introduction with her wailing Prince Show theme song. Most memorably, Maya’s Bey is a mouthpiece for the notoriously shy Prince, delivering whispered requests to famous guests, like asking Robert De Niro (as himself) to pretend he’s a mirror or Tobey Maguire (Shia LaBeouf) to sit atop a giant decorative cupcake and hold a plastic cherry. Anything for Prince.
2012: Maya as Beyoncé When Celebs Come to Meet Blue Ivy
This marks Rudolph’s first appearance as Beyoncé on the show after her exit from the cast in 2007, and her first alongside Jay Pharoah’s pitch-perfect Jay-Z. Maya hosted the Feb. 18, 2012, episode — perfectly timed just a month after the birth of Bey and Jay’s first child, Blue Ivy. Stick around for a string of A-list impressions, including Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Kristen Wiig as an always-surprised Taylor Swift. Oh, and Armisen’s Prince visits baby Blue too, of course.
2014: Maya as Beyoncé After Solange & Jay-Z Elevator Video
You can watch the full skit on NBC.com to see Pharoah’s Jay and Sasheer Zamata’s Solange pretend that their infamous elevator altercation after the 2014 Met Gala was no big deal. Or you can watch Rudolph-as-Beyoncé’s triumphant, wind-blown entrance below, complete with some of her most famous lyrics tossed in as musical dialogue.
2015: Maya as Beyoncé on ‘SNL 40’
Unfortunately, this video seems to have been scrubbed from the Internet (for now, at least), so we hope you enjoy Rudolph’s shoulder choreography in the GIF below. In Billboard‘s “10 Best Music Moments From the ‘SNL’ 40th Anniversary Special” article in 2015, we wrote: “Maya Rudolph owns the game when it comes to Beyoncé impressions, so it was a treat to see her return as Queen Bey (personal wind machine and all!) alongside Martin Short for a segment that highlighted various music-themed skits from seasons past.”
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) February 16, 2015
2021: Maya as Beyoncé Visits ‘Hot Ones’
Rudolph’s latest Bey-personation is one of her best yet, especially the nearly identical re-creation of Knowles’ 2021 Grammys look, from the black leather dress to the gold nails adorning her matching leather gloves. And those gloves were especially convenient for handling a series of increasingly hot wings on this hilarious spoof of the web interview series Hot Ones.