There has been a curious lack of black comediennes on the long-running late evening sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. After some mild controversy sparked by comments from troupe members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, the show’s creator says signing black actresses is something that will occur in the future.
The Associated Press reported on the show’s lack of diversity, noting that the last time a black woman held a post on SNL was Maya Rudolph, who left the series in 2007. Founding producer Lorne Michaels has spoken about the dearth of black comediennes on the show and appears committed to changing the racial landscape of the show.
From the AP:
Founding producer Lorne Michaels, who is still the show’s top executive and generally keeps the casting process mysterious, said he’s well aware of the issue and is on the lookout for black women as potential cast members.
“It’s not like it’s not a priority for us,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night. “It will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”
Back in September, Pharoah publicly blasted SNL in an interview with TheGrio.com for not hiring black women for the troupe, mentioning Darmirra Brunson as a person that should be considered. Brunson seems ripe for the style of comedy SNL produces, considering much of her work is performed in sketches.
Thompson caught heavy criticism for a TV Guide interview where he seems to suggest black women aren’t talented enough to make the SNL cast. Thompson, who often played female characters on the show, has decided he no longer wants to play those roles which makes spoofing black female celebrities a tough sell.
This weekend, buzzing actress Kerry Washington will host the program, which highlights a growing trend across the networks of black female leads and cast members among a variety of shows this current fall season. Washington stars as Olivia Pope in the mega-popular ABC series Scandal, and while she isn’t known as a comedic actress fans will no doubt tune in to see her in a new element.
The Hollywood Reporter obtained a letter from ColorOfChange.org addressed to Michaels, inquiring about his hiring practices and the lack of diversity of the show.
Michaels has yet to publicly respond to the letter.