Maya Rudolph’s return guest spot and Kenan Thompson’s role in a digital short were the lone African American appearances on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend – other than musical guest Kanye West.
New York’s African American governor David Patterson was played by Fred Armisen, a cast member of Venezuelan, German and Japanese heritage who also plays President-elect Barack Obama.
Of the 90 or so actors to grace the “SNL” stage since its 1975 premiere, only eight have been African-American. And that’s an issue for “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd.
In an AOL interview, she points out that there aren’t even enough African-Americans for a proper skit of her ABC daytime show. While Thompson portrays co-host Whoopi Goldberg, Shepherd’s character is simply left out of the sketch.
“Couldn’t they have gotten Maya Rudolph to play me?” Shepherd asked. “She is so awesome! They need more black people in their cast!”
“I agree with her,” Baron Vaughn, a black comic, told the New York Daily News. Diversity “doesn’t seem to be something that interests them.”
“Plenty of black people that I know have been on ‘SNL,’ and they haven’t been utilized to the best of their abilities. As much as I love Fred Armisen, there needs to be someone who can do a better Barack [Obama],” Vaughn added.
Harlan Halper, co-owner of Comix comedy club, told the Daily News: “Fred has done an admirable job, but they should try to address this issue with renewed diversity by looking for comedians who would play the role of Barack, but go way beyond that.”
A spokesperson for “SNL” said: “Casting is an ongoing process at the show. We are constantly looking for new people. We’ve been auditioning every couple of months or so, and we’ve seen numerous African-American performers and continue to look.”