'Saturday Night Live' Holds Secret Audition for Female Black Comedians


Saturday Night Live is doing an in-studio test to bring on it’s first black female cast member in 5 years.

The details are scarce, but Deadline is reporting that nine performers are in the running.

SNL chief Lorne Michaels told The New York Times today that he plans to audition 7-8 women. The in-studio test follows preliminary auditions, including one held in Los Angeles,  where some 25 hopefuls we seen.

Here are the names I’m hearing as being on the short list for the Monday test: Bresha Webb, whose photo from the Los Angeles audition posted online brought to light SNL‘s casting plans; improv player Tanisha Long, cast member of MTV’s Girl Code; Misty Monroe, who comes out of Groundlings; Gabrielle Dennis, who recurred on BET’s The Game; and Amber Ruffin, member of Boom Chicago, an Amsterdam-based sketch group; actress-comedian Leslie Jones.

Also possibly testing are UCB Theatre performers  Sasheer Zamata, whose name had been floated as a suitable SNL candidate before, and Natasha Rothwell, who previously won an NBC Universal Diversity Scholarship;  as well as Briana KC.

Michaels also told NYT that the show plans to add one black female cast member in January, with a slight chance  of a second one.

Variety adds:

The auditions are reportedly the first in the show’s history to focus entirely on minority females. The cast is already a female powerhouse with five ladies, one of whom, Cecily Strong, will host “Weekend Update” upon Seth Meyers’ sign-off. Of the 16 cast members, there are only a handful of minorities: Noel Wells is Hispanic-Tunisian and Nasim Pedrad is Iranian-American.

The show’s two African American actors, Jay Pharaoh and Kenan Thompson, have publicly said it’s high time for the addition of a black woman. Pedrad’s role in the show next year remains uncertain as she’s set to co-star in John Mulaney’s Fox comedy series.

It’s great to see SNL taking measures to promote more on-screen diversity after receiving some pretty harsh criticism for adding six new all-white cast members.

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