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Saturday Night Live Searches for Black Female Cast Members

Elaina Johnson | 12/18/2013, 3:16 p.m.
Black female comedians. Instagram

Since Saturday Night Live was founded in 1975, only four Black women have been cast members. Recently SNL viewers have put pressure on the show to change this low statistic.

“Neither ‘SNL’s’ cast nor its writing staff reflect modern America, ” says Soraya McDonald, blogger for Washington Post. “We know uproariously funny Black women exist. We know it’s possible to write entertaining sketch comedy that doesn’t rely entirely on stereotypes.”

In response to similar comments Kerry Washington did a guest appearance on SNL last month, making light of the situation, but even that was not enough to satisfy opposed viewers.

After hiring six new white performers this fall, last Thursday, the show’s producers hosted an audition showcase at LA’s Grounding in search for two new Black female cast members. Among those auditioning were:

  • Bresha Webb, actress and comedian, best known for her role as “Imunique” on TV One’s Love That Girl.
  • Nicole Byer, actress, from MTV “Girl Code”.
  • Amber Ruffin is one0-third of YouTube comedy sketch group RobotDown.
  • Simone Shepherd has a background in improv, sketch comedy, and has received attention her Vine videos,
  • Tiffany Haddis is an actress and comedian who has appeared on the Laugh Factory, HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and Bill Bellamy’s “Who’s Got Jokes?”
  • LaKendra Tookes, performer, is an English informercial host, does impressions of Oprah, and host of a Black girl with a YouTube series.
  • Damirra Brunson has received millions of viewers on YouTube for videos on sketch comedy, parody and celebrity impressions.
  • Azie Dungey is a YouTube personality, best known for her “Ask a slave” video series.
  • Beth Payne has appeared in BET “Sunday Best” and has voiced six different characters on animated PBS series “Maya and Miguel”.
  • Misty Monro is an elementary school drama teacher and improv performer at the Groundlings Theather in Los Angeles.
  • Gabrielle Dennis, actress and comedian, best known for her role as Janay Brice from CW’s “The Game”.

The East coast showcase was held in NYC at the theatre PIT on December 2nd. It included primarily African-American women, but non-white performers were auditioned as well.

SNL producers will add the newest SNL member to the cast as soon as January.