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Screening Room: Who Might Be The Next Black Actress On 'SNL'?

NPR | Dec. 13, 2013 12:22 p.m. | Updated: Dec. 13, 2013 1:29 p.m.

Contributed By:

Kat Chow

Kerry Washington recently appeared on SNL to spoof the show's lack of a black female cast member. Here she poses with Taran Killam.

Kerry Washington recently appeared on SNL to spoof the show's lack of a black female cast member. Here she poses with Taran Killam.

Dana Edelson, AP

Word has hit the Internet streets that Saturday Night Live recently hosted special — some folks are saying “secret!” — auditions for black women to add to its cast.

Things are moving fast: Bill Carter of The New York Times reports that Lorne Michaels, SNL creator and executive producer, said he was committed to finding a black actress by January.

The tryouts follow a sputtering of criticism over the absence of a black actress on SNL since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharaoh, two of the show’s black cast members, had previously lamented its lack of black women. Thompson, who said he was no longer going to dress in drag, came in for particular criticism after telling TV Guide that SNL auditions never turn up any black comediennes who were ready for the job.

Kerry Washington appeared on SNL in November after this debacle, opening with in a sketch in which she portrayed, like, a whole lot of black women. That drew this on-screen acknowledgement from the producers:

“The Producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight. We made these requests only because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman in the cast. As for the latter reason, we agree that this is not an ideal situation, and look forward to rectifying it in the near future … unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”

So which of these women might we see gracing the tee-vee in the future Saturday nights? Several women tweeted that they were at the auditions; you can see some of their YouTube material below. Deadline has circulated the names of some more SNL potentials. Feel verrrry free to hop into the comments and share more links to your favorite skits, clips and what-have-yous from black female performers you think should be on the show.


Gabrielle Dennis

Dennis played Janay on the BET series The Game and graduated from Howard University with a theater degree. She was also in Blue Mountain State, The Underground and Bring It On II: A Fight To The Finish.

@GabrielleDennis.

Simone Shepherd

She was Peaches in Tracks. She’s also an active YouTuber, and works with performer Torrei Hart to make videos for PrettyFunnyFish. Shepherd’s a prolific Viner, as seen in the above delightfully random compilation.

@SimoneShepherd. YouTube. Vine.

Tiffany Haddish

Haddish is a stand-up comedian, actress and dancer. She has appeared on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, My Name Is Early, Janky Promoters and Meet The Spartans.

@TiffanyHaddish.

Bresha Webb

She plays Imunique in Love That Girl! and was the character Cookie in LearningTown. Webb has also appeared on ER and State of Mind.

@BreshaWebb. YouTube.

Azie Dungey

Dungey is best known for the her video series Ask A Slave.

@AzieDee. YouTube.


Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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