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SNL Mocks Lack of Black Female Cast Members in Opening Kerry Washington Skit: VIDEO


SNL decided to address an ongoing controversy over its lack of black female cast members head on last night in a cold open featuring host Kerry Washington and Reverend Al Sharpton. Washington played Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in the skit.

As we reported yesterday, the nonprofit organization wrote an open letter to creator Lorne Michaels denouncing the lack of African-American women (none since the departure of Maya Rudolph in 2007) cast on the show.

This skit, and the disclaimer which floated over it on the screen were how they decided to address it.


Was SNL's response appropriate? And can Kerry Washington please stay on?


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  1. Good question, there are good funny back women out there. Much more important. When are they going to hire at LEAST one funny OPENLY gay staff member?

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 3, 2013 9:59:21 AM

  2. Wht not just have a recipe? We need 2 white men, 2 white women, one black man and woman each, one native American, an East Asian, a South Asian, a Southeast Asian, and a Middle-Easterner. A handicapped (I'm SORRY, phyically disabled!) person should be represented in the main categories, as well as mentally challenged, autistic, lesbian, gay, trans, asexual, Muslim, Mormon, republican and albino and atheist persons. Someone from the polyamorous community should also be represented.

    Posted by: will | Nov 3, 2013 10:03:27 AM

  3. Race was a constant refrain through the show, but Washington really worked hard and did a great job, even in the face of many of the usual often dubious jokes. They should make Weekend News about 45 minutes.

    Posted by: Paul R | Nov 3, 2013 10:13:24 AM

  4. @Mike, they have an openly gay cast member. Kate McKinnon was with "the big gay sketch show" before joining SNL

    Posted by: Reality | Nov 3, 2013 10:18:02 AM

  5. @ Mike - There is an openly gay cast member. I'm not totally sure of here name, but I believe it is Kate. She is a young, blond woman.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Nov 3, 2013 10:19:54 AM

  6. Agree with the suggestion that they should increase the Weekend News segment!

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 3, 2013 10:30:09 AM

  7. Well @Will, it appears that you could fill the mentally challenged slot.

    Posted by: ger | Nov 3, 2013 10:49:34 AM

  8. @Will, don't forget they need a midget actor. I am so glad SNL didn't let this group bully them into picking an actor just for the sake of meeting some kind of quota.

    Posted by: Perry | Nov 3, 2013 11:00:43 AM

  9. Yes, Kate, and she is a excellent addition but a quiet lesbian. Not OPENLY gay though. Of ALL TV shows this is supposed to appeal to gay youth as well and give them someone GAY to identify with and say "I am not so bad.", even someone to look up to. Come on Lorne . . .

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 3, 2013 11:10:00 AM

  10. Perry is right. SNL needs to concentrate on finding the funniest, most talented actors to appear on the show. Neither race, gender, orientation, nationality nor identity should be a consideration if they aren't funny and talented. As a lesbian of color, I could not care less about any of those considerations if the actors don't possess the talent to make the show fun to watch.

    Posted by: BigBlackMariah | Nov 3, 2013 11:19:54 AM

  11. Yes, it DOES matter! Remember that I use FUNNY as my first prerequisite. However GAY is also! Do not let a troll distract you by making it into some sort of impossible and difficult to come by menagerie. IT IS NOT!

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 3, 2013 11:47:05 AM

  12. Mike, Kate McKinnon is a totally out lesbian. Not quiet, not closeted, but out.

    Posted by: Robert | Nov 3, 2013 12:02:16 PM

  13. It's not as simple as *just finding the funniest people". Much of SNL is about satirizing famous people and the cast needs more versatility. You can't just plug anyone into any role. See how well Kerry Washington played Michelle Obama?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Nov 3, 2013 12:51:28 PM

  14. Yep. Being funny has nothing to do with being hired on a comedy skit show. SNL should know they need to hire people based on their ability to meet certain demographic criteria.

    Posted by: Perry | Nov 3, 2013 1:05:06 PM

  15. Robert, and Kate McKinnon is a BOTH a gifted and accomplished lesbian♀♀ at that! (Scroll back.) However she is NOT gay♂♂!

    Swear that this that is almost like a combination of "Groundhog Day" and an unusually BAD SNL sketch . . .

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 3, 2013 1:07:40 PM

  16. @Mike: Not only is Kate gay, but she has also been OPEN about it dince before she was on SNL. She said in 2010:

    ”My ultimate dream would be to be a Lily Tomlin or to be Tracy Ullman. You know just a character woman…I would kill to be the first gay person on SNL or have a Tracy Ullman type show. That would be my ultimate dream.”

    Kate is, however, the first gay SNL cast member in 27 years, while SNL has repeatedly mocked gay people in sketches where the punch line is little more than "gays are weird." I'd say black women have actually fared well on SNL by comparison.

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 3, 2013 1:22:24 PM

  17. quiet lesbian! outrageous!

    Posted by: Jaker | Nov 3, 2013 1:28:15 PM

  18. Rather than be worried about the race of cast members, SNL should concentrate on trying to be funny. The show hasn't been funny for years. And the show's attempts to get cheap laughs holding up the effeminate gay male stereotype for ridicule is just pathetic.

    Posted by: Bob | Nov 3, 2013 2:11:55 PM

  19. There is a literal website list of black comedians.

    2 pages of females.
    5 pages of males.

    Given this is not all inclusive. If this is representative of the talent pool in general, then that might explain a few things. However if there is an opening and a black female applied, but was turned down for an equal or lesser talented white female....then they could have grounds for discrimination. Has there been any cases of this to come forward?

    SNL has kind of slipped away from their glory days. There are other comedy venues besides SNL.

    Posted by: chris255 | Nov 3, 2013 2:38:12 PM

  20. Is Andy Towle being paid to promote Kerry Washington? This woman is not particularly gay-friendly.

    Posted by: Adrenan P | Nov 3, 2013 3:04:20 PM

  21. The sketch amply conveyed the biggest limitation SNL places on itself by focusing so heavily on white, male castmembers: its own capacity to skewer the world around it. If the First Lady is a black woman, and you have no black women, that's a comedy problem, not a fairness problem. It was clear as day when they hired Eddie Murphy in the 80s, and suddenly the show had a jolt of (hilarious) humor around blackness.

    Posted by: AdamA | Nov 3, 2013 3:55:01 PM

  22. Real talk, though: if a program (however good or bad it might be) is the #1 platform for cultural and political satire, and it's pretty much all white people? That's something worth critiquing. Imagine if the cast were all men; could they have shaped the 2008 race without Tina Fey? Wasn't it worth it to hire a black castmember who could play POTUS without heavy bronzer?

    Posted by: AdamA | Nov 3, 2013 3:58:03 PM

  23. How many funny black women WANT to be on SNL?

    Posted by: Mike W | Nov 3, 2013 11:53:31 PM

  24. I'm glad SNL is not only aware of the desire to add diversity to their cast but are publicly showing their recognition of it. Next step: Casting choices. Onwards and upwards. Let's make it happen.

    Posted by: Marc | Nov 4, 2013 4:34:35 AM

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