SNL Addresses Its Lack of Racial Diversity...Kind Of
Finally addressing the bad press it's received in recent months over its failure to employ more (read: any) black female cast members, Saturday Night Live opened with the above clip.
In it, Kerry Washington plays three different characters, while an apology from the producers narrates in voice-over:
The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight. We made these requests only because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because "SNL" does not currently have a black woman in the cast. As for the latter reason, we agree that this is not an ideal situation, and look forward to rectifying it in the near future…unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.
But while the content of the skit addresses the show's diversity problem, its tone plays more like an acknowledgement of the circumstances, not an admission of any wrongdoing. There's no real commentary on the show's lack of racial equality except to characterize it as "not ideal." That's why the skit's most telling moment really comes at the end when Al Sharpton makes a cameo to say, "What did we learn from this? As usual, nothing."
Five out of the show's six new cast members who came aboard this season were white men. And since 1975, SNL has featured just four black women in its regular cast, and the last, biracial Maya Rudolph, left in 2007.
Lorne Michaels addressed the issue in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "It's not like it's not a priority for us," he said. But that's a problematic statement considering he's hired just four black women in almost 40 years.
Michaels went on to add, "It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."