By Chris Hoenig
Saturday Night Live has been under fire for its lack of diversity, and it knows it. So when the show had Kerry Washington on to host last weekend, its writers did what they always do: They made a joke of it.
There have only been four Black women among the 137 cast members who have appeared on SNL, so having Washington host meant there was an opportunity for someone to portray several Black women celebrities. It didn’t take long for SNL producers and writers to take advantage of thatand to acknowledge the recent controversy.
During the show’s “cold open,” Washington took on the roles of First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfreyostensibly because Keenan Thompson, one of the two Black cast members, refused to dress up as a womanbefore being asked to change into a sequined dress to play Beyonc. During her first costume change, the show ran a voiced-over scroll about the controversy.
“The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of Black women she will be asked to play tonight. We made these requests both because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because SNL does not currently have a Black woman in the cast,” the scroll read, as cast member Jay Pharoah, playing President Obama, sat awkwardly behind it. “As for the latter reason, we agree that this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future … unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”
The sketch ended with a cameo from Reverend Al Sharpton. “What have we learned from this sketch As usual, nothing,” he said, before delivering the signature “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” tagline.
Watch a video of the sketch below: