Anyone who watches “Saturday Night Live” regularly can tell you that there’s a surprising lack of diversity on the show, namely in the form of black female cast members. In fact, on the November 2 episode hosted by “Scandal” star Kerry Washington, the show acknowledged this fact by opening the show with Kerry exhaustively quick-changing between several black women including Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Oprah, and breaking the fourth wall to complain about the ridiculousness of being the only one available to play every single character.
Now, after taking some serious heat, the long-running sketch comedy show announced it’ll be holding a final special audition on Monday to find a black female to join its mostly white cast. “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels told the New York Times that he’s committed to adding at least one woman of color to the cast to join the current six female players. About time, we say.
Despite just hiring a new round of featured players — one woman and five guys, all white—the show reportedly has been holding “secret” auditions for the past several weeks, and have whittled down the list to “seven or eight” finalists.
Several women auditioned for the show in L.A. earlier this month, including Bresha Webb, who said that the atmosphere at the audition was very supportive, and tweeted a pic of herself with her fellow performers (above). Webb auditioned along with Tiffany Haddish, Simone Shepherd, and about a dozen other women. “There was no sense of competition or pettiness,” she told Vanity Fair. “We were just happy that some new black women in comedy were being considered and given a shot. We even held hands and prayed after the showcase. It was refreshing.”
The last time the show had a female black player was in 2007, with Maya Rudolph. The show currently has two black cast members—Jay Pharaoh and Kenan Thompson—both of whom offered their take on the issue. Pharaoh encouraged the show to hire a black female comedian, while Thompson claimed that the show just hadn’t been able to find any who were “ready” for the intensity of the job.
“SNL” is moving fast: The new cast member is expected to join the show in January.