Saturday Night Live held auditions for a black, female cast member in a sold-out showcase at Groundlings in Los Angeles last week. The auditions were a secret, report Gothamist, Splitsider, and many of the comedians themselves. The lineup reportedly included Bresha Webb, Nicole Byer, Amber Ruffin, Simone Shepherd, Tiffany Haddish, LaKendra Tookes, Damirra Brunson, Azie Dungey, Beth Payne, Misty Monroe, and Gabrielle Dennis.
The show had come under considerable criticism for replenishing its depleted cast with five white men and one white woman, which cast member Kenan Thompson attributed to black female comedians not being “ready.” The writers addressed the issue (humorously!) by making host Kerry Washington play three different black women in one sketch last month, but a better case for diversity on television might be Simone Shepherd’s Beyoncé impression. Also, Damirra Brunson’s.