Surely you recall when, last year, SNL’s lack of diversity reached critical (un)mass and much ado was made about show-runner Lorne Michaels’ search for a fresh black female face to add to the cast. Leslie Jones was in the pool along with Sasheer Zamata, and though the latter was eventually recruited as a cast member, Jones impressed too, so she was culled for the writing room.
Well, Leslie Jones is officially moving out of the writing room and onto the stage as a season regular on Saturday Night Live, bringing the cast’s diversity stats to 6 women and 6 people of color out of the 15 players — and (more importantly?) bringing the show’s humor stats up to an average of 3 chuckles, 4 snorts, and one big belly laugh per skit (we hope).
You may recognize her when she returns, Jones raised some eyebrows last season after appearing in “Weekend Update” and riffing on slave-breeding and the modern dating scene. Things have gone smoother in the show’s 40th season. Last weekend, one skit featured Jones, along with Zamata, Jay Pharoah, and Kenan Thompson, as African villagers who are taken aback when a bearded Bill Hader (playing Charles Daniels) asks for donations of only 39 cents a day to help provide them with food, water and medicine. When they hear what Daniels is asking from viewers, the villagers urge: “Start higher!” It is not often that a skit on SNL features more people of color than white dudes (while simultaneously criticizing white dudes and the politics of ignorant do-gooders).
Jones’ debut as a full fledged featured player is this Saturday night with host Jim Carrey.
Images and video via SanDiego.com and NBC