Earlier this week, we reported that Sasheer Zamata became the first female African-American cast member on Saturday Night Live in five years, since Maya Rudolph left the show. Today, the late-night series has added two female African-American writers as well, bringing in Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes to the writing staff.
Both writers had auditioned for the cast opening that eventually went to Sasheer Zamata, although Leslie Jones was one of the 12 finalists that were called back to perform on the SNL stage in New York. The auditions were the first in the history of the series to focus solely on female minorities. Sources indicate the show has no plans to feature the writers on screen at this time, although several former writers have successfully transitioned from the writer's room to the stage, including Jason Sudeikis and Mike O'Brien, who was promoted to featured player this season after spending four years on the writing staff.
Leslie Jones is a stand-up comedian and actress who has appeared in movies such as National Security, A Guy Thing and Lottery Ticket, along with recent guest-starring appearances on The League and Sullivan & Son. She also had a stand-up special, Leslie Jones: Problem Child, that aired on Showtime in 2010. LaKendra Tookes is a former news reporter from Florida who has also performed at iO West. You can CLICK HERE to check out her character reel, which features impersonations of Nicki Minaj, Paula Deen and Oprah Winfrey.
While the cast and writers addition were largely made due to controversy about the show's diversity, the series is also preparing for the departure of Weekend Update host Seth Meyers, who replaces Jimmy Fallon as the host of NBC's Late Night.