On the eve of Kerry Washington's appearance on Saturday Night Live, founding producer Lorne Michaels responded to rising complaints about the dearth of black female comedians on the show, the Associated Press reports.
Currently no black women are among the 16 repertory or featured players on the show. The most recent, and most prominent, woman was biracial Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007. Washington, whose role as Olivia Pope on ABC's Scandal has helped catapult her to stardom, is slated to appear as a guest host on SNL tonight. It was recently announced that she is pregnant, which is likely to draw viewers hoping to see a baby bump.
Michaels, top executive of Saturday Night Live, who generally keeps the casting process mysterious, said he is on the watch for black women as possible cast members.
"It's not like it's not a priority for us," he said Thursday night, according to the AP. "It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."
Civil rights leaders have begun to press the issue. In a pointed open letter to Michaels, Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, asks how he will make sure black women are represented on the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Robinson argues that SNL caters to "dehumanizing portrayals that make race and gender the butt of the joke."
The letter, which the Hollywood Reporter obtained exclusively, praises Washington's selection as host, but says it is not enough.