It's been a long time coming. Saturday Night Live executive producer and creator Lorne Michaels told the NY Times in a Thursday, Dec. 12 interview that he had committed to adding a black, female cast member to his show by January 2014.
Michaels confirmed that he has been holding casting sessions to find the perfect fit for his iconic show. "A lot of people we saw [approximately 25 people] are really good," Michaels said Thursday to the paper. "Hopefully we'll come out of the process well."
Not since Maya Rudolph left SNL back in 2007 has the comedy sketch show hired a black woman to join its cast. In recent months, the absence of a black female cast member on the iconic show garnered criticism from fans -- as well as from the show's black cast members. Jay Pharaoh insisted the show "follow up" in adding black cast members. Kenan Thompson, meanwhile, took the more comical route and said he was tired of doing impressions of black women in drag.
On the casting delay, a source told Us Weekly, "Lorne and the producers just hadn't found the right person and they realize that they were limited themselves in the amount of skits that they were able to do."
The show creator, meanwhile, added to the paper on Thursday, "We’re all about talent. It doesn’t help if somebody’s not ready -- and 'ready' is one of the charged words. But you want to be sure you give people the best possible shot."
Gothamist first reported the news of Michaels revving up his search on Thursday, Dec. 12 -- with a series of social media updates from the auditioning of a dozen or so women, who tried out in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 2. Comedian Simone Shepherd posted a pic to Instagram, surrounded by a group of actresses who were also trying out for the slot. "The hilarious BLACK women who just rock[ed] the SNL audition. #WeJustMadeHistory," she wrote beside the picture, which was deleted Friday, Dec. 13.
"You have to be careful to try to protect your players," Michaels told the Times on wanting to find the best possible casting fit, as she will be heavily scrutinized.
"Everyone is sensitive to the matter," the insider told Us. "There will be someone added to that cast next year for sure, as Seth exits, Lorne doesn't mind having a big cast as long as all of his needs are met opportunity and creatively wise."