Racial diversity issue on "Saturday Night Live" was brought to attention earlier this year by cast member Kenan Thompson, and civil rights group ColorOfChange.org has just pointed it out again. In a letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the group's executive Director Rashad Robinson demands an explanation from "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels about the lack of black female cast members.
"Since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, 'SNL' has failed to cast even one Black woman -- yet still manages to traffic in dehumanizing portrayals that make race and gender the butt of the joke," the letter reads. " 'SNL' seems committed to aggressively continuing to push images of Black women as incompetent, rude, hypersexual and financially dependent. Frankly, we're tired of this disrespect."
Robinson does praise the show's casting of Kerry Washington as a host for this week's episode, stating, "Your decision to tap Kerry Washington, the breakout star of ABC's tremendously popular 'Scandal', to host this week's show at least acknowledges that TV viewers want to see dynamic, multidimensional Black women characters on screen."
He, however, adds, "But it's scandalous that after Ms. Washington's episode wraps on Saturday, this season is unlikely to feature any Black women characters at all." In the letter, Robinson also asks Michaels to explain what he will do to "ensure Black women are no longer excluded from the show" and to speak with Michaels by November 6 to discuss how he "will improve the situation at 'SNL'."
NBC and Michaels have not responded to the letter by ColorOfChange.org, but Michaels has addressed the issue during an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night, October 31. "It's not like it's not a priority for us," he said of casting black women, promising, "It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."
In the show's 38-year run, there's only been four black female cast members: Yvonne Hudson (1980-81), Danitra Vance (1985-86), Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) and Maya Rudolph (2000-2007). Speaking to TV Guide earlier October, Kenan Thompson shared his thoughts on why there's currently no black woman in the regular cast line-up. "It's just a tough part of the business," he said. "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."