November 1st, 2013
12:23 PM ET

Kerry Washington hosting 'SNL' during diversity debate

As "Scandal" star Kerry Washington readies to host "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, chatter about the show's lack of diversity continues to build.

After cast member Kenan Thompson told TV Guide the late night show has had difficulty hiring black, female comedians because many of those women just aren't ready and the talent pool is limited, there has been much said about "SNL's" lack of racial and gender diversity.

New York Times writer Jason Zinoman recently wrote that the show may want to focus more on inclusion than taking the time to find a seasoned, black female comedian who is "ready" for prime time. Thompson's refusal to continue to dress in drag to portray famous, black female characters leaves a void, Zinoman said, though there will be some relief for that this weekend, he noted.

"When Kerry Washington hosts this week, the show will have someone who can credibly play Beyoncé for the first time this season," he wrote. "There hasn’t been a cast member to portray Michelle Obama for her husband’s entire presidency."

The show lost its last African-American female cast member in 2007 when actress Maya Rudolph left after seven seasons. Jerry Minor, a black comic who was part of the cast for the 2000- 2001 season, told Salon he thought the show would have gotten more diverse in the 13 years since he was on the show.

Since "SNL" debuted in 1975, there have been 15 black cast members, 4 of them women. Minor, who remembers his time on the show fondly, said he believes the cast diversity issue is a result of "executives not paying attention"

“When you don’t have enough people of color with their views, people get in a vacuum, and they don’t even think about it,” Minor said. “I had to make a concerted effort, and still have to make a concerted effort in my writing and ideas I come up with to include women."

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