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SNL Held ‘Secret’ Audition for Potential Black Female Cast Members

Saturday Night Live appears to be finally addressing its lack of black female cast members in a substantive way. According to a report on Gothamist, the show held a round of “secret” auditions at the Los Angeles Groundlings theater last week exclusively for African-American women.

Comedians Gabrielle Dennis and Bresha Webb shared photos of the audition pool, which also included Simone Shepherd, Tiffany Haddish and Darmirra Brunson, on Twitter and Instragram:

Webb’s backstage photo included the message: “This is what happens after us talented black women showcase for SNL we thank God and praise him for the opportunity and the blessing! So inspired and we all killed that ish tonight!” She also spoke about the experience to The Jasmine Brand, saying, “The audition came about from an inside source from SNL. I don’t think any of us had a clue about the showcase until two days prior.”

The current controversy began after the show hired a handful of new featured players, all of whom are white. Cast member Jay Pharoah spoke out against the lack of diversity, urging the show to hire Darmirra Brunson. Later, the other black cast member, Kenan Thompson suggested that the show had trouble finding black female comedians who were “ready.”

When actress Kerry Washington hosted in November, the show opened with a sketch the directly addressed the controversy, complete with an endorsement of sorts from Al Sharpton. While that may have helped lighten the mood, the issue will not be resolved until Lorne Michaels adds one, or perhaps more than one, black woman to the cast. This latest news shows he’s actively moving in that direction.

Watch the Kerry Washington sketch below, via NBC:

[photos via Twitter, Instagram]

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