Lorne Michaels Had a Secret Audition for African-American Comediennes for ‘Saturday Night Live’

By December 12, 2013

SNL - Logo

While this writer still firmly believes that the “diversity problem” that people have been talking about at “Saturday Night Live” is actually an issue at the core of the entertainment world rather than with one single show, the Kerry Washington hosted episode proved that the late night sketch series could have some fun with a female African-American cast member. And they just might be getting one soon.

The Jasmine Brand (via Deadline) learned from black comedienne Bresha Webb that Lorne Michaels held a “Saturday Night Live” showcase/audition at The Groudlings in Los Angeles. Now this kind of thing happens regularly, and it’s how the show finds new cast members or talent to keep an eye on. But this time it was a secret, and it was only for black female performers.

Webb said, “We were just happy that some new black women in comedy were being considered and given a shot.” Here’s a picture of all the women who auditioned for “SNL” at The Groundlings:

Saturday Night Live - Black Women Audition

Webb (circled above) said that her friends Tiffany Haddish, Beth Payne and Gabrielle Dennis all auditioned as well, but we’re not sure who the other ladies are.  The comedienne also says, “We were all very supportive of each other and there was no sense of competition or pettiness. We were just happy that some new black women in comedy were being considered and given a shot. We even held hands prayed after the showcase. It was refreshing.”

Now there’s no guarantee that one of these women will end up on the show, but at least Michaels is actively looking for someone to fill this gap. There’s a chance that “SNL” might add a black woman into the cast in the middle of the season. The last time that happened was with Michaela Watkins in 2008, and she didn’t make it to the following season. We’ll see how this all shakes out, but you can expect to see a black female cast member on “SNL” again sooner than later.

UPDATE: Some more details have surfaced from THR saying that a new cast member will be selected by January, in order to fill the gap that will be left by the departure of Seth Meyers when he goes to host “Late Night.” That doesn’t mean this cast member will assume his duties, but just take the empty slot on the cast.

We also have some more confirmed names who have auditioned including Misty Monroe, Amber Ruffin, Simone Shepherd, Tiffany Haddish, Nicole Byer and Darmirra Brunson, who cast member Jay Pharoah recently said he wanted on board “because she’s black, first of all, and she’s really talented.”

In addition to the Los Angeles showcase described above, one was also held in New York where Lorne Michaels himself was in attendance. Supposedly there are more showcases to follow in order to find the absolute best new addition to the cast. This kind of move almost seems unfair because the pressure will be on for this cast member to deliver, but knowing they writers, they’ll probably make some kind of self-referential joke about it in the first episode this new cast member appears. Stay tuned for more updates.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.