Aisha Tyler: The actress and comic (featured here with SNL alum Amy Poehler) is the co-host of popular show ‘The Talk,’ but got her start in stand-up comedy. The multi-talented performer also loves video games, and will participate on the improv show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ While not exactly a newcomer, she would be fresh to comedy as a pure art form in the public eye if on SNL. (Photo: Getty Images)
Sommore: Comic Sommore has been on the black comedy scene for years, but is likely totally unknown to mainstream audiences. She certainly has paid her dues, and deserves a big break such as SNL.
Jessica Williams: This special correspondent for ‘The Daily Show’ must know a thing or two about comedy to hold her own on the hit news show that focuses on that craft. She has certainly proved she is “ready,” but is not so famous that SNL would have to pass on her. The show typically tries to break new talent, but we think Williams is in just the right position to fit the requirements of talented-but-not-too-famous. (Photo: Getty Images)
Franchesca Ramsey: Franchesca Ramsey (right) shot to viral Internet fame with her spoof ‘Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls.’ Since then she has created a steady stream of hilarious videos, featuring music, hilarious scenarios, and more. Ramsey has not only a huge following and amazing screen presence; she also knows how to market herself to younger, multicultural audiences. Could she be the shot of fresh blood SNL — who many believe is rarely funny — needs now?
Darmirra Brunson: Darmirra Brunson currently stars on the Tyler Perry produced OWN series, ‘Love thy Neighbor.’ But what makes her great for SNL is her ‘The Darmirra Show’ on YouTube. On that show the talented actress plays a number of characters in skit-like settings — training that is perfect for a show such as SNL that trades on the cast members’ abilities to do impressions. Definitely worthy of consideration. (Video screen capture)
Megan Mcglover: This multi-facted woman is a lifestyle guru, comedienne, and more. But it is because her humorous YouTube videos garner hundreds of thousands of viewers that SNL producers should take notice. (Photo: http://www.meganlmcglover.com/)
Tracee Ellis Ross: Ms. Ross — daughter of icon Diana Ross — was a hit on the seminal sit com ‘Girlfriends.’ But many don’t know that she also appeared on the ill-fated ‘Lyricist Lounge Show,’ which featured hip-hop sketch comedy. She’s done it all folks!
Issa Rae: Issa Rae of ‘Awkward Black Girl’ fame might be willing to walk away from web stardom to work for SNL, if they follow her ‘no audition’ rule. While she refuses to go that route, her slide splitting web series, which she also wrote and produced, shows she definitely has the talent to make it in late night sketch comedy. SNL should take her as she is! (File photo)
Sasheer Zamata: A New York City sketch comedy theater web site describes Zamata (far left) as “an actress, writer, improviser and stand up comedian.” But she is so much more. The performer is a sketch comedy veteran whose work has appeared on numerous outlets, including NBC’s the ‘Today’ show. Currently she stars on MTV’s ‘Hey Girl.’ Yet, she might be willing to come over to what many consider the gold standard of comedy, if given the opportunity. (Photo: Getty Images)
Michelle Buteau: Michelle Buteau might not be a household name, but that is something that the SNL producers actually prefer. That does not mean she is unprepared for the big time. She has made numerous high profile appearances, such as on ‘Lopez Tonight,’ and is renowned in her field.
10 black women Saturday Night Live should consider hiring. (Getty Images)
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After Kerry Washington‘s recent Saturday Night Live hosting stint, the issue of the lack of black women cast members in the show’s history is continuing to make waves.
Yes, the producers humorously addressed the issue by having the talented actress play more than one black woman in a skit meant to illustrate that SNL recognizes its deficit. But for many people this gesture was not enough, and the commentaries have continued to roll in.
Demetria Irwin, writing for theGrio, told SNL, “no thanks for the back-handed acknowledgment,” in response. Her essay details the ways in which this attempt to address this lack of diversity side steps attempts to take corrective action.
For Salon.com, comic actress Nefetari Spencer revealed what it was like to audition for the show post-Maya Rudolph — only to be rejected. Rudolph is the last woman of African descent to be an SNL cast member. The year was 2008.
“With Maya Rudolph no longer being on the show, they were going to need a Michelle Obama,” Spencer told Salon. “I mean all of the signs were there. I had been working tirelessly for years to get to that level. I couldn’t help but feel sad, but I also felt I left my heart on that stage and that’s all I could do.”
Yet, Spencer realized then and as she does now how SNL is at a loss from not having black women on the cast. This prevents the show from accurately reflecting society. Kerry Washington filling in for a night was wonderful in her opinion, but not a solution.
“Although she was great,” Spencer said, “I do think that ‘SNL‘ missed an opportunity to capitalize on some of the things they haven’t been able to do because they don’t have an African-American female in the cast. Like, where was the ‘Scandal’ parody sketch?!! I wish I could have been in that writer’s room and pitched some sketches for her.”
On the NPR Code Swith blog, Eric Deggans writes that its time for SNL to make that change. Cutesy skits making light of its lack of people of color don’t cut it.
“Bringing diversity to corners of life where it doesn’t come naturally is often hard,” he wrote, “requiring specific effort and sustained work. In other words, it’s time executive producer Lorne Michaels and company made a mission of bringing a black woman into the fold.”
Countless others agree. The Kerry Washington skit in question was spawned by the backlash that ensued when SNL cast member Kenan Thompson said it was hard to find black women who are “ready” for the show. The overwhelming response on Twitter, blogs and other outlets is that SNL producers have not looked hard enough.
Here are 10 black women Saturday Night Live should consider hiring to fill that void. Culled from both our Facebook audience picks, research and staff recommendations, we think this bunch of funny African-American women is a great place to start.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.