Yesterday we found out that Saturday Night Live has been quietly auditioning black female comedians recently in response to the criticisms about the lack of diversity in the new cast. Lorne Michaels confirmed that the show is indeed planning on hiring a new castmember in January: “All told we’ve seen about 25 people,” Michaels told the Times. “A lot of the people we saw are really good. Hopefully we’ll come out of the process well.”
Michaels said he is open to adding up to two new castmembers, and that there had been multiple secret auditions, including ones in LA and NYC. Michaels didn't say that these auditions were specifically due to the criticisms, but did acknowledge that it was “100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman” in the cast. He insisted this was all about finding someone who is versatile: “We’re all about talent. It doesn’t help if somebody’s not ready — and ‘ready’ is one of the charged words. But you want to be sure you give people the best possible shot.”
He said he couldn't recall a time that the show has added someone mid-season before, but it's not unusual to bring new featured player aboard toward the end of the season—this difference next year is that NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in February will pre-empt two editions of the show.
At least one of the SNL hopefuls who tried out in LA was a bit skeptical about how serious the show was: comedian Tiffany Haddish told TMZ that the LA audition on December 2nd felt like 'a dog and pony show' because Michaels wasn't there in person. Haddish thinks "they already know who they want ... they're just wasting all these black women's time and gas money." In which case, that may mean good things for Darmirra Brunson, who already has a fan in castmember Jay Pharoah.