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

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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