Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Jay Pharoah on 'SNL's Diversity Issue: "They Need to Pay Attention"

With the addition of six new cast members this season, all of whom are white, Saturday Night Live has come under fire for its lack of diversity over the past couple weeks. Jay Pharoah, one of two black members of the 16-person cast, weighed in on the matter during an interview with theGrio:

"They need to pay attention. Her name is Darmirra Brunson…Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. She’s amazing. She needs to be on SNL. I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year …

It’s one of those things that’s hard. Some people choke up. Some people burn their bridges by saying things they shouldn’t say either. You just have to be very political about your delivery, what you say, and your performance. You’ve got to be on point. Everybody has to like you and want you to win. If they don’t like you, it’s a wrap."

SNL hasn't had a black female cast member since Maya Rudolph departed in 2007. Darmirra Brunson, who Pharoah suggests adding to the show, is a cast member on Tyler Perry's OWN show Love Thy Neighbor. Like Pharoah, she got her start via her popular web videos.

(via Uproxx)

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  • Jason

    "Because she’s black first of all" is not the best way to start that pitch.

  • Scrommy

    35% of American adults are obese, so sorry, I'm gonna need a couple more fat guys on the cast.

    This is a complete non-issue. If the cast wasn't so ungodly huge, no one would be making a stink about the demographic make-up. I've always respected SNL for casting by talent, not by "well, we need a black girl."

    • C

      You're a dummy.

      • Jeffrey

        Name calling is a lot easier than arguing C. That's why you do it.

      • Scrommy

        I just look at the Hartman-Carvey-Hooks-etc. cast and feel like no one really makes an issue of the fact that there is absolutely no diversity there (except for Dennis Miller meeting the "smarm" quota) because they were so funny. Should they not be casting by who's gonna make for the funniest cast, period?

      • Go USA

        you damn liberals better stop up voting this crybaby comment and get a brain morans

    • Brian Bouton

      So in 40 years and 88 cast members, they've only found three suitable black, female sketch comedians?

      • Scrommy

        It would appear that way. But 14 black cast members of any sex out of those 88 which, if you're looking for them to meet some kind of ridiculous quota, has to satisfy it.

        If Jay Pharoah thinks SNL needs more diversity, why isn't he working to expose them to a Latina woman? They've never had one. Not that, as a viewer who comes to the show for comedy and not statistical racial equity, I give any kind of shit.

        • Brian_Bayless

          Cecily Strong is currently on the cast and is Latina.

          • Matt

            well good for her (even though snl is a total soul and creativity sucking experience from the looks of it)

  • Jeffrey

    1/8th the Cast is black or 12.5 %.. which is close to the actual black population of America. Identity politics is racism as well. He even admits he wants her because she's black. That means he excludes others on the basis of not being black.

    • Brian Bouton

      Huh? Maya Rudolph was the closest to a black female character on the show, and I don't know if she identified as black or not. MadTV, and In Living Color early on, continuously embarrassed SNL's lily white casting choices in comparison.

      • IhateDisqus

        Worked out pretty well for them…

      • JeffMc2000

        They were very specifically going after a demographic that SNL wasn't serving. Both those shows were aiming for younger audiences, too.

  • Brian Bouton

    I was excited to see Pharoah join the cast if only to give us hope Keenan would finally move on to something else. I'm not sure what we did to deserve a decade of "What's Up With That?"

  • Marc Watkins

    I guess the SNL writers feel dressing Kenan up in drag is easier than having a female black cast member. It seems like if you are a black woman, or an asian person, you wont have a chance on SNL.

    • Brian Bouton

      Bobby Lee on SNL would have been great.

      • hahahahahahahahahahahahaha


  • IhateDisqus

    Let me start by saying that it probably would be a good idea for SNL to hire a black woman. It would give them more flexibility with sketches they might want to do.

    That said, the idea that the "have" to because they need to be more representative of the general population is such BS. SNL is not the public school system. It is a TV show that is allow (and should be expected) to have its own comic sensibility. There should be an SNL "voice." And if Lorne can't find more minorities that fit in that voice, he should not hire minorities just to fill a quota. I think it is inherent in the "more minorities" argument that minorities may bring a different style of comedy — if not, why should we care if SNL hires more minorities if it is just going to be more of the same from a different skin color. If you accept that minorities may have different comic styles, I think it is fair for SNL to decide that those styles don't fit with the show it wants to put on. I understand that it is frustrating since SNL is now the only traditional sketch comedy show in town (no more MadTV, In Living Color). But SNL does not and should not try to be all things to all people.

    • Brian Bouton

      It would be great if they had a talented black woman who could play a Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or plenty of other black female celebrities in sketches. Or they could just put one of the white female cast members in black face which I'm sure would work out well.

      • IhateDisqus

        I agree with you. That said, if they hire a black women and she only plays Michelle Obama, Oprah, Whoopi, etc. for the first year or two, I think fans/critics will get very frustrated very quickly. They have to find someone that can connect with the voice of the show in original characters for the hire to satisfy the current "too few minorities" criticism. That is tough.

        I'll also add, finding someone that can carve out a place on the show is not easy — no matter their race. Paul Britten and Tim Robinson (both white males) are two of the funniest performers I have seen. Both had difficulty finding their place on the show after they were hired. Same with Jay Pharoah and countless others before them. The difference is that because there are fewer minorities in the cast, it is more obvious when they are not fully utilized. Especially to people who are actively looking for SNL to hire and use more minorities.

        • Brian Bouton

          I just laughed imagining Pharoah pitching a black counterpart to "The Californians." It would be nice if the show was as effortlessly diverse as The Daily Show.

          • Matt

            i turned the daily show on once and i didn't laugh at all. diversity doesn't work (then again it's also an old show with an unfunny old fart hosting it that should probably be put to rest).

          • Brian Bouton

            I'd heard legends of someone like you out there on the Internet but never thought they were true.

  • Brandon

    If Keenan Thompson could do a half decent Obama impression, Jay Pharaoh would be an open miker in NYC.

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