Saturday Night Live is hoping to fix its big diversity problem very quickly. After reports emerged that the show was holding auditions exclusively for black women, The Hollywood Reporter's Seth Abramovitch and Lesley Goldberg reported that sources say the show "intends on adding one African-American woman to the cast as soon as this January." Update: Bill Carter of the New York Times reports that Lorne Michaels has confirmed this timeline. According to Carter, Michaels "had committed to that timetable to add the show’s first black woman since Maya Rudolph left the series in 2007."
This comes after the show faced widespread criticism over the fact that its incoming cast for this season was entirely white. In response, cast members began speaking out. Jay Pharaoh said that Darmirra Brunson should be cast "because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented." Meanwhile, longtime cast member Kenan Thompson said in another interview that black women aren't cast because "in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready." By the time Kerry Washington hosted the show in November, the problem was so evident that the entire cold open ended up being about the hole in the show's cast.
Word started spreading over the past two days that the show held an audition showcase exclusively for black women. One actress, Bresha Webb, told the Jasmine BRAND that 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." (Jezebel compiled some examples of the work of the comedians on hand for the audition.) The Hollywood Reporter report further revealed that there were actually two showcase auditions held, and that the show is acting fast. Bradford Evans at Splitsider noted that "midseason has been a time when SNL has traditionally added talent, on occasion. With Seth Meyers most likely leaving to host NBC's Late Night around midseason, there'll be room in the cast and the show's budget for a new performer."
Fixing the very apparent problem in their cast is a big step for the show. Let's just hope that whoever is added is scrutinized the same way any new cast member would be, not more so because she was part of the show's attempt to correct their mistake.