“Saturday Night Live” plans to add one or two black female performers to its cast as soon as January.

A representative for the NBC sketch-comedy show on Thursday confirmed reports it’s answering complaints about its lack of diversity by staging showcases to choose at least one black female cast member and to hire her within weeks.

In recent weeks, the show has seen two dozen candidates in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

The New York Times reported that a special audition for seven or eight finalists will be held Monday on the “SNL” stage in Manhattan.

It’s “100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman” in its ranks, executive producer Lorne Michaels told the Times.

Criticism for the show’s lack of diversity was spurred this fall by its only black cast members, Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson.

Thompson voiced weariness at being obliged to play black female characters in drag. Pharoah lobbied for the addition of a specific comic, Darmirra Brunson, of the OWN sitcom “Love Thy Neighbor.”

“SNL” has had just four black women in its regular troupe since premiering in 1975, with the last one, biracial Maya Rudolph, leaving in 2007.

“It’s not like it’s not a priority for us,” Michaels said in an interview with The Associated Press in early November. “It will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”

Days later, the show poked fun at itself for having no black women among its 16 regular cast members, with Kerry Washington, the star of “Scandal,” as guest host.

At the top of the show, an “SNL” producer apologized for the number of black female characters Washington would need to play that night.

“We make this request both because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because `Saturday Night Live’ does not currently have a black woman in the cast,” the producer told viewers. “We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the future – unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”




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  • Mama Sunshine

    I don’t watch SNL anyway, but I don’t like the idea that the only reason they are putting a Black woman on the show is to shut us up. If they were casting BW on there prior to receiving complaints about the lack thereof; if they were casting BW on there because they recognized their comedic talent that would be one thing, perhaps I would be more inclined to watch (or maybe not, I don’t think the show is that funny). However, this obvious tokenism is a turn-off for me, so I still won’t be watching it. (Honestly, I never saw a problem with BW not being on the show. I don’t find it necessary that we be involved in every single thing white people create. We’re bigger than that. But that’s just me…)

  • Cat

    Whoopty dooo! Still won’t be tuning in.

  • Anthony

    I hope the new cast member is treated well, and has good material to work with. SNL was embarrassed into diversity, but that is a good thing for a show exudes liberal smugness. It is good for them to realize that even “progressives” need to have their eyes opened from time to time.

  • Mari

    It’d be kind of funny and trollish if they hired somebody like Rashida Jones who doesn’t seem to identify with black people, but is still black enough for them to claim the cast is diverse. I would get a good chuckle out of that.

    • Deb

      It’s amazing (and sad) how much Rashida publicly distances herself from black anything apart from her father. You can tell she’s not really seen as being black or even mixed by those who hire her. Mission Accomplished Rashida!

    • Anthony

      @Deb, I agree, but let Rashida go! The last thing we need is people who don’t want to be with us.

      Too bad her dad gave her such a jigaboo sounding name!

  • Child, Please

    i said this to someone yesterday, that it feels like they’re only doing this so people will shut up. Bad move on their part. Also, will this comedienne have a say in skits like her black male counterparts? I don’t want it to be where they give this person bits where they’re traditionally stereotyped.