The Golden Globes: A Case for Diversity on SNL

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    Did you watch the Golden Globes Sunday night?

    If so, did you notice a theme running through much of the event, the films, the winners, the presenters and the hosts?

    Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Julia Louise-Dryfus and Will Forte—–are all current or former Saturday Night Live cast members.

    They are all part of a very successful and growing number of SNL alum who are having their way in film and television in Hollywood.

    They are becoming industry power brokers.

    That is why it was so important, last week, when SNL hired it’s first African-American woman cast member in more than six years, Shasheer Zamata.

    That is why it was so important, last week, that the show hired two African-American women writers, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones.

    Many questioned why it was such a big deal or even a news story.

    The answer is that it is big news because it is a leap forward for diversity.

    The key things that diversity offers are opportunity, access and exposure.

    These three women will now have the opportunity to hone their crafts and skills with some of the best comedy writers in the world.

    They will have access to resources they probably did not have before in their previous positions.

    And the exposure they and their work will have is worldwide and virtually unlimited.

    What a blessing for all women, but especially women of color.

    Comedy is a tough business.

    But, comediennes and women comedy writers will tell you it’s even harder for them.

    Comedienne Sheryl Underwood told me last week on CNN that as funny as she is, it was very difficult to be taken seriously as a woman in the business, and that she had to finance many of her own projects in order to remain viable.

    As I sat watching the Golden Globes I couldn’t help but think about all the people who had written me saying the hiring of black women on SNL wasn’t a news story or a big deal.

    If you don’t think the opportunity to work for a show like SNL is a big deal, perhaps you should ask just a few of the people whose careers it helped to launch.

    Maybe you’ll recognize some of their names: Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, David Spade, Tim Meadows, Norm Macdonald, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Kevin Nealon, Damon Wayans, Larry David and so and so on and so on.

    And now hopefully you can add to that Shasheer Zamata, Lakendra Tookes and Leslie Jones.

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