‘SNL’ Auditions Black Women on Heels of Criticism

'SNL' Auditions Black Women on Heels of Criticism

Following a lack of diversity backlash, the sketch comedy show attempts to fill a void via NY and LA showcases

“Saturday Night Live” held two audition showcases last week in search of an African-American female cast member, a person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

So far, “SNL” has held one showcase in Los Angeles (at the Groundlings Theatre) and one in New York City at an undisclosed location, the person said. There will be one more upcoming.

The “SNL” plan was always to add somebody in January, with Seth Meyers leaving soon, the person told TheWrap. Now, the hope and expectation is clearly to fill the glaring void by next month. Meyers may or may not stay aboard for the remainder of the season, even as he takes over for Jimmy Fallon at “Late Night.” (Fallon in turn is taking the “Tonight Show” over from Jay Leno.)

Also read: Why ‘SNL’ May Never Be This White Again

The long-running sketch comedy show typically holds showcases throughout the year, so the process is “not abnormal,” the person told TheWrap. However, the motivation is different this time around: a media storm erupted earlier this season when cast member Jay Pharoah was quoted expressing what appeared to be disappointment in the lack of a black female in the cast, especially after a hiring frenzy that brought five white players aboard, along with Noel Wells, who has Tunisian and Hispanic heritage.

“They need to pay attention,” Jay Pharoah told website theGrio in late September, even suggesting a hire. “Her name is Darmirra Brunson …Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. She’s amazing. She needs to be on ‘SNL.’ I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year.”

Castmate Kenan Thompson later said that he believed no one who fit the bill was “ready.”

When “Scandal” star Kerry Washington hosted “SNL” earlier this season, the show used the cold open to humorously acknowledge the controversy, asking Washington to play Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and later Beyonce in one sketch. She drew the line after the first costume change. The sketch later highlighted the show's ability to produce six Matthew McConaugheys.

Also read: ‘SNL’ Answers Critics by Booking All White Male Hosts, Musical Guests for December

One woman who auditioned last week, comedian Bresha Webb, told blog The Jasmine Brand: “The audition came about from an inside source from ‘SNL.’ I don’t think any of us had a clue about the showcase until two days prior.”

Webb added: ”We all entered the Groundlings Theatre backstage having no idea what to expect. I had no clue who was a part of the showcase. Of course my comedienne friends (Tiffany Haddish, Beth Payne and Gabrielle Dennis) were there.” She added, “The show was also sold out. It was packed to the max.”

Here is an Instagram and tweet from actress Simone Shepherd and Hadish, respectively, regarding the recent auditions:

  • Naggar joe

    Fucking retarded already with this shit being babied and favored into positions not rightfully earned go to hell mongrels

    • dannyjude63

      You need some serious help, dude.

      • Naggar joe

        Oh u must be one of those low info obamba voters uh DUR

  • dannyjude63

    What I don't understand is that SNL claims no black female performer who had auditioned was “ready” for the show. But some of the new cast members, such as Brooks Wheelan and Mike O'Brien, are barely given any screen time. So, how can they say any professional actor/comedienne, wouldn't be ready for THAT?

    • Sferd

      Good point!

  • Naggar joe

    These beasties don't want a regular job ever. Look at them all !!! SCARY!!! Ew!

    • John View

      You are a typical low-IQ ignorant racist bagger.

  • Jimmy Reagan

    I'm all for natural diversity, but what's going on now is forced diversity and it's sickening.. Every commercial HAS to feature ONE black actor and they must not be presented in a way as to make them look foolish – that honor is left to whatever white person is cast in the commercial. It's subtle, it's reverse racism and it's subliminal. Black people aren't even the major minority in the country anymore and white people are still the majority.. and this forced interracial stuff like it MUST be an option for everyone is getting ridiculous. If it weren't so forced, it wouldn't be a problem.. but it is so painfully calculated and underhanded. Try watching commercials and you'll see what I mean… As far as SNL, I have NO problem with the cast hiring a black female if one is qualified and is funny enough..but JUST to have a black female because of pressure is insipid. I consider myself a moderate left leaning liberal, but this ultra P.C. Stuff is out of control. We aren't talking about anyone's basic rights or life being persecuted, we're talking about forced acceptance.. Maybe there's no black female because the ones who applied weren't funny..They have two black males and I'm not even sure many black people even WATCH SNL, so why is this an issue?? If this were about whites on BET, we'd be told it's ridiculous. And this reverse racism and subliminal “diversity” is beyond annoying because it doesn't benefit anyone but blacks. .. Hey, There's no Asians on SNL either, but I bet more Asians watch than blacks… and I am sure they are just as big a minority as blacks.. There's no little people on there either..Where's that outrage?? (sarcasm)..

    • rob

      for your information Mr. so called I call myself a left leaning liberal blacks are not behind anyone we lead and demand respect and if we don not get it we move on if you don't like how things are going get your punk ass on no one cares if you have a problem, and as for your left leaning b/s liberals need people that put in work not fake ass fools that play up to the teabaggers

    • Sparky6string

      “Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all…”.

      The worst thing is they are out in the open about it- those that pressured them for this hire want it primarily because she's black. I can't get behind this for any color creed etc. I didn't watch the show for diversity or for black women, I watched it for comedy. Watched- past tense.

  • dfgdfg

    DEBRA WILSON NEEDS TO BE IN SNL. HECK MADTV STARS NEED TO BE ON SNL. CALLING MO COLLINS STEPHNIE WEIR MICHAEL MCDONALD

  • BaBa Booey

    I agree with Jimmy Reagan – it is getting so ubsurd. At what point does this stop – I mean when Nasim Pedrad was hired, I just thought she was attractive and very talented. Who cares that she was the FIRST Persain Female cast member.

  • Phedup

    @J. Reagan@….has some strong points here. I also like the term “natural diversity.” Makes sense. The USA populous used to use the term “token” when describing a person who was in a “group” but was different in “some way”…different enough to be a token representing that particular person's standing in the Human Race. Remember, folks? There were “token” Men, women, Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos, Jews, gentiles, kids, adults. Now it has expanded geometrically: Repubs, Dems, Green Parties, Tea Parties, fatties, skinnies, long hairs, short hairs, baldies, wiggies, bluecollar, white-collar, geeks, nerds, sexual-whatevers (pick your description), tall people, short people *(RandyNewman!), handicaps, disabled, normal, average, freaks, psychos, married, unmarried, Jews, Christians, Catholics (JFK…BFD!), Mormons (Romney, Harry Reid), Muslims, athletish, bookish, four-eyes, signers, smart moms, stupid dads, super intelligent kids, and don't forget the “Three White Male NBC Amigos” mentioned and shown (hilarious!!!) in this stooped story. SNL originally had its token men, women, Blacks, Jews, fatties, druggies, alchies, tallies, shorties, handsomes, beauties, plains, funnies, borings, actors, non-actors, repeaters, quiters, et cetera. Even though the NBC folks (Silverman? Tartikoff?) were only too aware of “tokenism” and “diversity” within the workplace, I have a feeling that the cast of 1975 was more of a “natural diversity” than a “forced diversity”…or “tokenism.” However, somewhere along the line, “forced diversity” made it uncomfortable (and difficult) to find the “right sex, color, religion, creed, sexual-orientation, body shape/height, hair color, voice, religion, proper-politic, ass-kissing, amiable actor for the SNL Troupe, each SNL year. SNL probably went for “whomever fit the bill” and NOT “whomever fit.” But I must state: SNL and all of our “media-cultured” companies bitch and moan and sling doo-doo at Conservatives for “doing” exactly what these LibDem folks have been doing…and continue to do, which is to NOT “celebrate diversity” or “U.S. tokenism.” BTW, SNL…why only two Black women?

  • tonicmole

    I'd have to point out that many of the white male cast members are rather redundant, and really feel unprepared for SNL. Also, limiting the casts diversity limits the skits they can do. It's why there is always a fat guy.