'SNL's' Kenan Thompson Refuses To Dress In Drag Until The Show Hires A Black Woman
Aly Weisman Oct. 16, 2013
Due to lack of cast diversity, Kenan Thompson has been playing black female characters ranging from Maya Angelou to Jennifer Hudson and Oprah.
Out of 16 "Saturday Night Live" cast members, currently only three are actors of color — Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh, and the Iranian Nasim Pedrad.
So when the NBC comedy sketch show wants to do segments on pop culture hot topics such as Rihanna, Oprah, Michelle Obama, or Beyoncé, one of the black male actors is forced to cross-dress.
And Kenan Thompson, who has played everyone from Maya Angelou to Jennifer Hudson, has had enough.
Thompson opened up to TV Guide in a new interview, saying he will no longer dress as women on the show.
When asked what "SNL" will do now when confronted with potential black female characters or celebrity spoofs, Thompson revealed, "I don't know. We just haven't done them. That's what I'm saying. Maybe [Jay Pharaoh] will do it or something, but even he doesn't really want to do it."
Thompson blames the lack of quality black female comedians. "It's just a tough part of the business," Thompson says. "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."
Jay Pharoah agrees the show needs to add more actors of color, but thinks there are people out there ready for the job.
He recently told theGrio, "They need to pay attention," talking about "SNL" producers adding a black woman to the cast.
Pharoah even suggested his top choice, Darmirra Brunson, who's currently on Tyler Perry's "Love They Neighbor."
"Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she's black first of all, and she's really talented. She's amazing," Pharoah continued. "She needs to be on 'SNL.' I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year."
As for the six new, all-white cast members, Thompson has no issues.
"They're all contributing in different ways I think. They've been doing great job so far. They're all very, very smart and talented, so that's how it is. That's the kind of people I guess that get the job," Thompson says.
In the 38 years "SNL" has been on the air, TV Guide notes, the series has only had four black female cast members: Yvonne Hudson (1980-81), Danitra Vance (1985-86), Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) and Maya Rudolph (2000-2007).
Following the "SNL" backlash this week, it was just announced that "Scandal" star Kerry Washington will host the show on Nov. 2.