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Saturday Night Live to Add African-American Female to Cast By January

Date December 12, 2013
Saturday Night Live to Add African-American Female to Cast By January

Kerry Washington

Saturday Night Liveis hoping to add an African-American female to the cast as soon as January, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The NBC sketch comedy show recently held two showcases — one in Los Angeles and one in New York — to find African-American women to audition for the live variety show.

Kenan Thompson blames SNL's diversity issue on lack of talented black comediennes

The show's lack of diversity, which has been repeatedly criticized in recent months, was mocked in the Nov. 2 episode hosted by Scandal's Kerry Washington. The entire first sketch was built around the concept that, presumably because of the lack of African-American women on the show, Washington would have to play several African-American celebrities, including Michelle ObamaOprah Winfrey and Beyonce, all in the same skit.

The sketch was a winking reference to Kenan Thompson's comments about the lack of women of color on SNL. In an interview with TVGuide.com in October, Thompson blamed the show's diversity issue on a lack of quality black female comedians, rather than on showrunner Lorne Michaels or the series. "It's just a tough part of the business," Thompson said at the time. "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."

Among its 16-person cast, SNL currently only employs three actors of color (Thompson, Jay Pharaoh and Nasim Pedrad).

In the 38 years that SNLhas been on the air, the series has only had four African-American female cast members: Yvonne Hudson (1980-81), Danitra Vance (1985-86), Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) and Maya Rudolph (2000-2007). Of the four, only three were repertory players (Hudson was only a featured player before being fired midseason). This means, there have been large gaps in SNL's history when there were no African-American women on the show at all.

What do you think of SNL's recent actions?

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