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SNL Had a Secret Showcase to Find a New Black Female Cast Member

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Marisa Kabas

By Marisa Kabas on December 12, 2013

The memo about hiring a black female comedian finally got to the right office over at Saturday Night Live, seemingly by way of a sightless carrier pigeon with one wing and a bad sense of direction.

The casts of SNL have always been about as diverse as a box of white chocolate, but it wasn’t until the current season that fan’s distaste for the show’s monochrome nature came to a head. The outcry was set off by a controversial comment from Kenan Thompson — one of SNL’s two black cast members, who was often made to play female characters — in regard to the dearth of black female comedians on the show.

“It’s just a tough part of the business,” he told TV Guide. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

Even a hosting stint by Kerry Washington and a cheeky response to the controversy didn’t quell the shitstorm. Now it’s been revealed by the Jasmine BRAND that last week SNL held secret auditions in the form of a performance showcase at LA’s Groundlings Theater to find a talented black female sketch comedian to join the cast.

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This, from Gothamist:

Actress Bresha Webb told the Jasmine BRAND about the showcase, which was held at LA’s Groundlings Theater: “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. It was an awesome opportunity even though it was such a short notice but, if you stay ready you ain’t gotta get ready and we were READY! Lol But we were all honored to be selected.”

It seems odd that the whole thing was so sudden and hushed, creating even more mystery about what exactly is going through the minds of Lorne Michaels and Company. It feels like they were just hanging out, sipping dirty martinis, and someone was just like “Oh, what should we do about that ‘issue’,” and Michaels was like “Oh, ho, hum, let’s throw something together in a couple days, see what happens.”

In the end this is a good thing. Though they took the very long way around, the iconic show seems to have come to its senses and recognized that its cast isn’t representative of the millions of people they broadcast to each Saturday. Also of note: Weekend Update anchor and writer Seth Meyers will be departing mid-season, so we could be seeing a fresh new face any day.

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