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Saturday Night Live wasted no time to address the controversy over its lack of black women in its cast during its Kerry Washington-hosted episode.
In it’s cold open, Washington played the first lady, causing President Obama (Jay Pharoah) to remark, “I feel like it’s been years since I’ve seen you!” (No one has regularly played the first lady since Maya Rudolph left the cast in 2007.)
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It didn’t take long for an Obama aide (Taran Killam) to announce Oprah Winfrey was outside. He motioned to Washington — who asked, “Kenan won’t…?”
After Washington exited the Oval Office, a voiceover made an announcement:
“The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play. We make these requests because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent — and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman on the cast. Mostly the latter. We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”
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Washington then returned as Oprah — only to be asked to leave again because Beyonce was waiting in the wings.
President Obama asked if anyone else would be stopping by, and his aide said they had a special treat: five Matthew McConaugheys. In marched five castmembers dressed as the Dallas Buyers Club star.
The sketch ended with the real Rev. Al Sharpton appearing onscreen with a message: “What have we learned from this sketch? As usual, nothing.”
The arrival of the Scandal star came as Lorne Michaels and SNL‘s producers have been under fire from critics, saying the cast lacks diversity, with some calling it a civil rights issue, while others say the lack of a black woman on the show severely limits what issues SNL can tackle and whom it can lampoon.
Earlier this week, Michaels addressed the criticism, telling the Associated Press he was sure there would be a black woman on the cast again soon.
“It’s not like it’s not a priority for us,” Michaels told the AP. “It will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”
Read a full recap of the episode here.
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