‘Saturday Night Live’ adds black women as writers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Saturday Night” is expanding its ethnic diversity off-screen as well as on.

A network spokeswoman, Lauren Roseman, said Wednesday that NBC’s comic institution is adding two black women to its writing staff.

The move follows the addition of an African-American woman, comedian Sasheer Zamata, to the show’s cast.

The hiring of LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as writers was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The trade paper said the two had been part of recent auditions focusing exclusively on minority women.

“Saturday Night Live” has been criticized for a lack of diversity, particularly the absence of a black woman among the 16 regular or featured players. Black male cast members, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, commented publicly about it and refused to dress in drag to portray black women.

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