'Saturday Night Live' adding black female cast member in January

All it took was prolonged Internet rage for "Saturday Night Live" to actively seek out black female performers for the cast. When it was announced that six new cast members would join the current season, all of whom are white, many took the show to task for its lack of diversity. "SNL" cast member Kenan Thompson claimed the problem was a lack of talent more than anything else.

In response to the criticism, the show held auditions for African-American women on the east and west coasts in early December. Executive producer Lorne Michaels tells the New York Times that as many as two people will be considered to join the show after a final audition of seven to eight candidates on the "SNL" stage.

The finalists who audition on the "SNL" stage have all been asked to prepare an impersonation of Michelle Obama as part of their act, though Michaels says that too much focus has been put on how there's no one to play the role. "That's a weird sort of way at looking at it because you don't judge comedy that way," he says, adding, "Versatility is what we look for."

According to Deadline, there are nine performers rumored to be on the short list for the final audition. They are Tanisha Long ("The Girl Code"), Gabrielle Denis ("The Game"), Bresha Webb, Misty Monroe, Sasheer Zamata, Natasha Rothwell, Amber Ruffin, Leslie Jones and Briana KC.

Currently, between the main cast and featured players, the show is made up of 10 men and six women. The last black female "SNL" performer was Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007 after nine seasons.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images