After its lack of black female cast members became a subject of much Internet debate, Saturday Night Live responded the best way it knows how: holding a struggling Kenan Thompson down and trying to force a wig on him. But after that failed—and after lampshading the controversy with a Kerry Washington sketch only seemed to exacerbate the outrage—the show has moved on to holding auditions specifically intended to find a black female cast member. Blogger Jasmine Brand broke the story with her interview with Bresha Webb, who posted a photo of herself and 10 other black females who’d been called to a “secret” audition at L.A.’s Groundlings theater, which “an inside source from SNL” had reportedly set up. With only a couple days’ notice to prepare, these black females then staged a showcase in an attempt to prove they were “ready” to join a show that claims to have had trouble with finding people like that through its regular audition process.
For Webb, this was actually her second chance, as she says she actually had the opportunity to audition last summer, but it had conflicted with her schedule on TV One’s Love That Girl (a conflict that, had it been resolved, maybe could have helped SNL sidestep this whole mess). It remains to be seen whether Webb made it through this time, or whether these auditions will result in callbacks for some of her fellow candidates like Gabrielle Dennis, Tiffany Haddish, Simone Shepherd, or Darmirra Brunson. (Brunson might have an edge, seeing as she was specifically named by Jay Pharoah as deserving of a spot, back when this whole controversy was just beginning to erupt.)
It also remains to be seen whether adding a female black cast member will quell the criticisms that SNL lacks diversity, or criticisms that this sort of response to those criticisms is just tokenism or pandering. But we can probably safely say it won’t, because criticism is fun.