We've Got Hollywood Covered

Amber Ruffin Reveals a Secret Support Group Among Black Women in Late-Night TV

WrapWomen Blog: “If I found out that another Black lady who had a late-night show, and they were doing it wrong, I’d be there,” Ruffin says

Writer-comedian Amber Ruffin wants to set the record straight about the so-called competitive environment between women in Hollywood that is often portrayed in the media, sharing her praise and gratitude for her friend and fellow writer-comedian Robin Thede. “If it wasn’t for Robin, I don’t know what I would have done,” Ruffin tells TheWrap.

Ruffin recently sat down with WrapWomen and opened up about women supporting women in the sometimes cutthroat business of show business. Her story begins in 2014 when she became the first Black woman to write for a late-night network talk show when she joined the writing staff of “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Three years later, Thede started hosting “The Rundown with Robin Thede,” becoming one of the few Black women to host their own late-night show. Six years later, Ruffin followed suit when she premiered “The Amber Ruffin Show” on Peacock. Shortly after, other Black women including Ziwe Fumudoh and Sam Jay also started hosting their own late-night shows.

The comedian recalled a moment two years ago when she was negotiating the terms of her current contract. Thede, who now stars in and executive produces “A Black Lady Sketch Show” on HBO Max, stepped in to help Ruffin navigate the process — from the deal structure to salary. “If it wasn’t for Robin, I don’t know what I would have done,” said “The Queen of Late Night.” 

This sense of camaraderie isn’t just unique to Ruffin and Thede, but rather a widespread bond between a lot of Black women in late-night television. “Forty percent of all Black women in late-night television are on a text chain,” Ruffin told WrapWomen.

“If I found out that another Black lady who had a late-night show, and they were doing it wrong, I’d be there,” she explained. “I’d be there talking to everybody about how to deal with it.”

Up next, Ruffin is excited to meet and learn all about the new talent entering the space at SeriesFest in Denver, where she will be taking over Red Rocks this Sunday for a special screening of her show. “It’s cool when people are looking for a new voice. Because when they find it, they want to share it with as many people as possible. That’s the cool part of SeriesFest, is that they’ve made this their mission,” Ruffin said. And who knows, maybe a few women will be added to her group chat after this weekend…

About WrapWomen

WrapWomen is a power base of influential women from entertainment, media, technology and brands committed to changing the face of their industries. Through media and live events including the BE Mentorship Conference and flagship Power Women Summit, we provide a platform to accelerate the vision of women who are building toward a more equitable world. Our events attract a broad network and community of professional women who are decision-makers and mothers, leaders and wives, innovators and activists. 

Follow us on Instagram @WrapWomen and on Twitter @TheWrapWomen

Click here to sign up for our newsletterClick here to tune into our podcast.

WrapWomen is a community of ambitious, engaged and connected female professionals, dedicated to leading full, fulfilled and fun lives. We put our thoughts in this blog. You can add yours too.