As the Emmy-nominated star of buzzworthy drama “Scandal,” Kerry Washington would be a compelling “Saturday Night Live” hosting candidate in any circumstance.
But an ongoing “SNL” controversy assures the dialogue before her November 2 appearance will not be limited to whether she can excel at live comedy. It will focus on whether the selection came in response to criticism of the show’s homogenous casting.
Long a background talking point for “Saturday Night Live” critics, concerns about the show’s lack of ethnic diversity entered the limelight this summer when “SNL” confirmed that five of it six new 2013-14 cast members were white males.
Concerns about their homogeneity emerged in reviews of all three of this season’s episodes, and they reached a new boiling point when cast member Kenan Thompson addressed the issue in an interview with TV Guide.
Asked specifically about the absence of black females from the cast, Thompson explained, “It’s just a tough part of the business…Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
The current “SNL” cast fails to represent a number of ethnic groups, but the absence of a black female is particularly notable given the fact that Michelle Obama, the current First Lady, is a member of that demographic. Since “SNL” routinely skewers politics and current events, its inability to portray one of the most influential women in the world is nothing if not conspicuous.
When Washington hosts on November 2, she will be the third black woman to fill the gig, following Gabourey Sidibe and former cast member Maya Rudolph.
Eminem will serve as the episode’s musical guest.