Kenan Thompson Defends SNL Casting: Black Female Comics Aren’t ‘Ready’

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Kenan Thompson

It’s no secret that “Saturday Night Live” has a diversity problem. The show’s 39th season kicked off two weeks ago with six new cast members including five White men, one White woman and, for the sixth year in a row, not a single Black female actress.

Now that Kenan Thompson has declared his cross-dressing days as a thing of the past, loyal viewers of the comedy-sketch show want to know who will portray Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Kerry Washington or Oprah now?

During an interview with TVGuide.com, Thompson said “I don’t know.”

“We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe [Jay Pharaoh] will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it,” he said.

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The veteran SNL star went on to blame the problem on a lack of quality black female comedians, stating they’re just not “ready.”

“It’s just a tough part of the business,” he explained. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

Thompson added that the new cast members are getting the job done. “They’re all contributing in different ways, I think. They’ve been doing a great job so far. They’re all very, very smart and talented, so that’s how it is,” he said. “That’s the kind of people I guess that get the job.”

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Jay Pharoah revealed his thoughts on the diversity problem during a recent interview with the Grio. Unlike his cast mate Thompson, he said there are plenty of qualified African-American women, including Darmirra Brunson, who’s currently on Tyler Perry’s “Love They Neighbor.”

“Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. She’s amazing,” he said. “She needs to be on SNL. I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year.”

There are currently three actors of color on SNL, Thompson, Pharaoh and Iranian Nasim Pedrad.

In the midst of ongoing debate, Kerry Washington is scheduled to host the Nov. 2 episode of the show.

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