Saturday Night Live has only featured four African-American women in its 38-year history, a reality that has been reinforced by the introduction of six new cast members this season — all of whom were white.
Current African-American cast member Jay Pharoah recently lamented the state of affairs in an interview with theGrio.
But SNL veteran Kenan Thompson is singing a different tune. In a recent interview with TV Guide.com he argues that it’s not the show, it’s the lack of talent that is at issue.
“It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
As TV Guide.com points out, in an era where black women like Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé and first lady Michelle Obama dominate pop culture and the news cycle, the absence of a black female performer on the show is even more glaring.
Maya Rudolph, the last African-American woman on SNL, was by far the most successful. After creating a slew of unforgettable characters and impressions she left the show in 2007 to pursue a career in film and television. She’s since appeared in the blockbuster movies like Bridesmaids and Grown Ups.
She scored an Emmy nod for her well-received return to Saturday Night Live as a host in 2012.