'Saturday Night Live' plans to hire black female comedian

“Saturday Night Live’s” cast of Not Ready for Prime Time Players is about to get a little bigger. After criticism surfaced about the show’s lack of female black cast members, creator Lorne Michaels told The New York Times he’s been holding auditions and plans to make at least one midseason hire.

Michaels said it was “100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman” among the players, but added that the expectation the show had to have a black woman in its regular cast so someone could impersonate celebrities such as Oprah and Beyoncé was misplaced.

“That’s a weird sort of way of looking at it,” he said, “because you don’t judge comedy that way. Versatility is what we look for.”

Auditions held over the past few weeks around the country led to a special vetting on the “SNL” stage Monday night for several finalists. Michaels said he could hire as many as two women, and they would join the cast for shows starting in January.

News of the auditions first appeared on Gothamist on Thursday, and one woman who had tried out tweeted a photo of herself with the female comedians she met there.

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