SNL diversifies cast

February 3, 2014 6:16 AMComments Off

Column by Annika Grassl

annikagrassl-w2000-h2000Since the first time “Saturday Night Live” aired in 1975, the show has become an iconic platform for comedians and music acts to debut their talents on national TV. The show also allows stars a unique opertunity to publicize their recent accomplishments personally.

From the first exclamation of, “Live from New York! It’s Saturday Night Live!” the cast of SNL has consisted primarily of white male actors and comedians.

Some of the most recognizable male hosts include Alec Baldwin, Justin Timberlake and Steve Martin.

While all three of these men are simply hosts of the show, they bring a fresh flair and flavor which regular cast members on the show may not.

In early December, SNL creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels held a roundtable audition in Los Angeles.

The audition was held specifically for African American women and in reaction to backlash that the show lacked diversity.

This audition resulted in SNL hiring Sasheer Zamata, who made her SNL debut on the show on January 19.

Before Zamanta’s hiring, Kerry Washington hosted the show in early November.

Before that, Maya Rudolph was the most recent SNL cast member. Rudolph left the show in 2007.

The statistics regarding the male-female ratio of the SNL cast are staggering. Out of the show’s 137 well-known cast members, there were only 27 females, one  who was an African American woman.

This translates into only 20 percent of the well-known SNL cast members.

Even more staggering than that statistic is the fact that only 9 out of the 76 (11 percent) of recurring roles on “Saturday Night Live” are held by women.

The oldest SNL cast member was George Coe, who was 46 when he was a cast member in 1975.

This compares dramatically to the youngest cast member, Anthony Michael Hall, who was 17 years old when he began in 1985. Hall was a cast member from 1985 to 1986.

Following the trend of “Saturday Night Live’s” lack of diversity, there has only been one cast member with a disability.

Danitra Vance, who was dyslexic, had trouble reading cue cards and memorizing lines.

Vance was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1988 to 1990.

Over the past 39 years, the iconic comedic sketch and music performance show has been a staple show in the NBC weekend line up.

Over the years, and especially recently, Saturday Night Live has done very little to try and increase the diversity of the cast members on the show.

Grassl is a first-year law, politics and society and public relations major and can be reached at annika.grassl@drake.edu

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