Before Leslie Jones joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, there were heavy talks about wether the show had enough diversity and black women. During that time Kenan Thomspon was questioned about the show’s diversity and went on to suggest there weren’t any funny women of color who fit on the show. In a new feature with The New Yorker, Leslie shared that when she joined the writing team at SNL, the first thing she did was confront Kenan about the comments.
More than two years ago, Kenan Thompson had the world talking and it wasn’t about his comedy. In October 2013, the All That alum made headlines when he told TV Guide that the absence of black women on Saturday Night Live was due to the lack of quality African American comediennes. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready,” he said. “It’s just a tough part of the business.” Thompson’s remarks came after the long-running series hired six new performers, none of whom were black, which meant that the show was to be without an African American woman for its sixth straight year. After tense Internet uproar, the show’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels, launched a nationwide search for as many as two black comediennes. Soon after, Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones came aboard the NBC sketch series and Jones, never one to bite her tongue, approached Thompson for clarification. “I came at him, like, ‘I heard what you said, motherf***er,’” she told The New Yorker. “He said, ‘Come in, close the door, let’s talk.’” Though Thompson still stands by what he said, the 37-year-old explained his controversial comments. “What I said was that the show hadn’t found the right people. That was true. And at the end of the day, Leslie and Sasheer both got jobs, so I’m happy,” he said. And while the two comedians got off to a rocky start, the 48-year-old said that matter is long behind them and now considers Thompson “possibly my best friend on the show.”