African-American Female Writers Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes Join Writing Staff of “Saturday Night Live”

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones
LaKendra Tookes

According to Variety.com, NBC sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live added Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes, two comedians who recently auditioned for the program, as writers for the late-night series. Earlier this week, the show announced Sasheer Zamata, a veteran of improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, would begin as a featured player as of its January 18 broadcast.

The two new writers took part in auditions recently held in different parts of the U.S. with the express purpose of finding a female African-American to join the show’s cast of “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.”

While the current cast of Saturday Night Live includes two African-American men – Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah – it has not had an African-American woman in the cast since Maya Rudolph, a comic actress of mixed heritage, was in the cast between 2000 and 2007.

The show has not featured many women of color during its history.  Yvonne Hudson, an African-American woman, was a featured player during the program’s 1980-1981 season.  Danitra Vance, SNL‘s first African-American female full cast member, joined the show for its 1985-1986 season, part of show creator Lorne Michaels’ return to the program after an absence of several years. Ellen Cleghorne joined the cast from 1991-1995.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

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