The long-running sketch comedy series was criticized earlier this year for not asking any black female comedians to join its cast — a fact only made worse when cast member Kenan Thompson told TVGuide.com that the show can “never find ones that are ready” during auditions.
Despite the swift backlash to both of these stories, “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels isn’t rushing to fill his roster.
“It’s not like it’s not a priority for us” to cast a black, female comedian, Michaels told the Associated Press on Thursday. “It will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”
The biracial Maya Rudolph, who left the show in 2007, is perhaps the most famous female “SNL” cast member with African-American heritage. Ellen Cleghorne was a cast member in the early ’90s and, in 1985, Danitra Vance became the first African-American woman to join the “SNL” cast.
The issue of gender and racial minorities in film and television continues to receive significant focus. The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reported in September that women accounted for 43% of speaking roles in the 2012-13 – a small increase from past years. And music mogul Russell Simmons has started his weekly ADD Comedy Live show in Hollywood to support minority talent.
“Hollywood’s a very passionate, sweet, liberal place,” Simmons told Variety on Wednesday. “But they’re no more integrated than ‘Jerry Springer.’”