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‘SNL’ says it will add a black woman to its cast

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NEW YORK — "Saturday Night Live” plans to add one or two black female performers to its cast as soon as January.

A representative for the NBC sketch-comedy show confirmed it’s answering complaints about its lack of diversity by staging showcases to choose at least one black female cast member and hire her within a few weeks.

The show has seen two dozen candidates in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The New York Times reported that a special audition for finalists will be held Monday on the SNL stage in Manhattan.

Criticism for the show’s lack of diversity was spurred this fall by its only black cast members, Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson. Thompson voiced weariness at being obliged to play black female characters in drag. Pharoah lobbied for the addition of a specific comic, Darmirra Brunson, of the OWN sitcom Love Thy Neighbor.

SNL has had just four black women in its regular troupe since premiering in 1975, with the last one, biracial Maya Rudolph, leaving in 2007.

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