Earlier this year, Saturday Night Live searched high and low for a black woman to become a member of its cast after receiving criticism for not having had one in eight years. Auditions were held, and funny black women were vetted for the coveted spot. But only one was chosen.
SNL picked Sasheer Zamata from the dozens of women who auditioned, while Leslie Jones, who also auditioned, was hired as a writer. Jones not only wrote sketches but also participated in the “Weekend Update” segments, which caused a bit of controversy for the SNL newbie.
Jones’ slave jokes on her first “Weekend Update” didn’t sit well with many people. Jones spoke about People magazine naming Lupita Nyong’o its most beautiful person, but then she made jokes about slavery.
“The way we value black beauty has changed. I’m single now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m 6 feet tall and I’m strong. Look at me, I’m a Mandingo,” she said.
Jones was then asked by her co-anchor if she wanted to be a slave:
“I do not want to be a slave. I don’t like working for all you white people now and you pay me. But back in the slave days, my love life would have been better. Master would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation and every nine months I’d be in the corner popping out super babies. I’d just keep popping them out. Shaq. Kobe, LeBron, Kimbo Slice, Sinbad. I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick. All of the plantations would want me,” she said. “Now, I can’t get a brotha to take me out for a cheap dinner. Can a b—ch get a beef bowl?!!”
Maybe the controversy gave Jones the boost she needed for a promotion. According to Deadline, starting this week Jones will officially become a cast member. Jones, who is following in the footsteps of Michael Che, who started out as a writer, will probably push the comedy envelope once again. But with that said, SNL still doesn’t get a pat on the back for having taken so long to add some diversity to its cast.