Saturday Night Live has announced that they have hired LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as staff writers beginning on Monday, January 13th. The Hoolywood Reporter states that the duo was discovered during the auditions that were recently held for the show.
SNL's show runner Lorne Michaels has come under scrutiny in recent months as the 16 featured players currently on the show do not include any black women. Since the show's inception in 1975, only four black women have been included in the regular cast with Maya Rudolph, who departed the show in 2007, being the most recent.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Michaels stated, "It's not like it's not a priority for us. It will happen. I'm sure it will happen." Current cast member Kenan Thompson also weighed in on the subject stating to TV Guide that the show had difficulty finding qualified black female comedians to hire as the majority of women in the talent pool were not seasoned enough.
Leslie Jones and LeKendra Tookes attended the auditions for SNL that focused primarily on finding minority women for the cast. The audition also resulted in the hiring of Upright Citizens Brigande comedian Sasheer Zamata as the next female African-American cast member. Her debut will be on Jan. 18 when Drake hosts Saturday Night Live.
Leslie Jones is a stand-up comedian and actress whose appearances include guest spots on The League, Sullivan & Son and Def Comedy Jam. Her stand up credits include the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Canada as well as a headliner for the Aspen Comedy Arts Festival.
LaKendra Tookes, is a performer at iO West with an impressive character reel.
THR stated that SNL producers were impressed with the two ladies and while there are no plans to have them appear on the show the history of SNL leaves hope that they might get some screen time. Examples of writers turned feature players include Mike O'Brien and Jason Sudeikis.