‘SNL’s’ Lack of Diversity Still ‘Problematic,’ Says Org

Kerry Washington SNL

Although “Scandal” star Kerry Washington hosted “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, some fans are still hoping for a permanent fix for the dearth of minority female performers on the long-running NBC comedy series.

“It was compelling to watch Kerry Washington and Jay Pharoah take on the issue of ‘SNL’s’ lack of black women cast members in the cold open of Saturday night’s episode,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, said in a statement. “While certainly clever, it unfortunately doesn’t change the racial makeup of the current cast, or the reality of ‘SNL‘s’ problematic history with race and gender. ‘Saturday Night Live’ has substantial power in shaping the comedic world beyond Saturday nights. The absence of black women on ‘SNL’ means that black women will continue to be overlooked — in both casting and character development — on sitcoms, late night talk shows, and in comedic films.”

Robinson said his organization is meeting with NBC executives this month to discuss the problem and adds that “all jokes aside, we hope that NBC and [series creator] Lorne Michaels are taking this conversation seriously. After 39 years and 137 cast members — just four of them black women — Michaels has an opportunity to make lasting change in the show’s casting policies by opening doors for black women on ‘SNL,’ and moving us closer to a media landscape that is reflective of the American scene.”

For his part, Michaels acknowledges that this casting controversy is a problem; he told the Associated Press last week that “it’s not like it’s not a priority for us” and that “it will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”

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  1. Shame says:

    I completely agree!

    I also don’t see too many asians or hispanics playing NBA basketball and absolutely no women. That racist/sexist attitude needs to addressed by that organization as well as do other professional sports.

    Also, I find the film industry is absolutely biased against overweight and unattractive people and continues to favor beautiful women and buff men with shaved chests over average looking people with acne and pot bellies. That is discrimination just the same and they should be ashamed at their lack of diversity.

  2. NoKidding67 says:

    One thing that I am sure about is that Lorne Michaels is not walking around trying not to cast black women on the show. How is this even an issue? This is a TV show that no doubt auditions 100s of comedians everytime there is a slot that needs to be filled and it would be economic suicide not to pick the best candidates. If they haven’t recently found a good black female comedian to fill a roll, so what? Guess I should have been concerned about the lack of white people on the Cosby Show.

  3. Arnie Tracey says:

    Lorne is whistling past the cemetery. Poking fun at your own racism is jive-time posing, merely cynical, just a cliche. A ruse, even. Since he insisted on Richard Pryor’s appearance, Lorne’s lost his nerve. He’s become that guy at Abercrombie. The A&F CEO who hates fat people. Well, Lorne’s acting as if he hates —- women.

  4. Steve says:

    SNL should get some credit for the diversity firsts in their current cast. Nasim Pedrad is an Iranian-American. Name another Iranian or Iranian American on network TV.

    Casting, especially in comedy, can’t just be tokenism. The reason the majority of the cast ends up being white men is because the majority of people pursuing stand-up and improv comedy (the pools SNL draws from in CHI, LA, NYC) are white men, and those who make it have been going up on stages multiple times a week for years to prepare themselves for SNL.

    • Steve, I begger to differ. I have gone through Improv training at UCB (in L.A. at least), and there are TONS of minority women who are involved in both the Improv Sketch as well as the stand up comedy scene. Some very TALENTED women I might add. If they haven’t found any, then they really aren’t looking.

      • NoKidding67 says:

        What is your point – you seem to be saying that there should be tokenism and that since you’ve seen some funny minority womem comics they should find the best one of them to fill a reserved slot? I think there should probably be more white guys in basketball, I mean if we are going to go by general population, roughly half of each team ought to be white and their not – must be racial.

      • Steve says:

        I didn’t say “none,” but no one would argue that sketch/improv/stand-up communities are predominantly composed of white males, all talent aside, and strictly by the numbers.

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