Saturday Night Live kicked off its 41st season in October with five black cast members including Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson and Michael Che. Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones were added to the mix in 2014 after complaints of a lack of black women on the show since Maya Rudolph left in 2007.
During that controversy, Thomspon made headlines after claiming black women just weren’t ready for the process. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready,” he told TV Guide, according to Yahoo. “It’s just a tough part of the business.”
Those words earned him the ire of then newcomer Jones, who confronted him after joining the show as a writer. During an interview with The New Yorker, she said, "I came at him, like, 'I heard what you said, motherf***er.' He said, 'Come in, close the door, let’s talk.'" That conversation helped them squash a potential feud and Jones now calls him possibly her best friend on the show.
Having spent some time in the real world and admittedly "seen some sh*t," the comedienne offers a unique perspective behind the scenes. Many of the staff writers come from elite backgrounds like Georgetown University and Yale, and have limited experience when it comes to racial dynamics and other issues. However, Jones doesn’t hold that against them. "But one thing I learned—they’re not racist. They’re just white. They don’t know certain things."
SNL returns on Jan. 16 with host, The Force Awakens villain Adam Driver. Hopefully, awkward slavery jokes not included.