For a guy who only recently started getting taken seriously on Saturday Night Live himself, Jay Pharoah is impressively determined to keep pressing diversity as an important topic for the show. Whereas others (mostly white human beings) have said, either implicitly or explicitly, that having three people of color in a sixteen person cast is enough, Jay is understandably not satisfied with that. And neither am I, as long as we’re keeping track.
His point is that there hasn’t been a black woman in the cast since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007, but that as soon as anyone gives him the time of day, he has someone waiting in the wings. Here’s what Jay had to say in a recent interview with The Grio:
“They need to pay attention. Her name is Darmirra Brunson…Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. She’s amazing. She needs to be on SNL. I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year.”
Like they say they’re going to do every year. And then they go and hire six new white people, only one of whom is a woman. And aside from the fact that he says this woman Damirra should be hired ‘because she’s black first of all’, which I think is probably a disservice to her intelligence and comedic skills, Jay isn’t being unreasonable. He recognizes that it’s a daunting task:
“It’s one of those things that’s hard. Some people choke up. Some people burn their bridges by saying things they shouldn’t say either. You just have to be very political about your delivery, what you say, and your performance. You’ve got to be on point. Everybody has to like you and want you to win. If they don’t like you, it’s a wrap.”
And asked to speak on whether being black had affected his own treatment on the show, Jay said:
“I can’t say that exactly. Finding my niche and confidence and all that stuff, and being able to be on cue and things like that, that was a little bit of a problem in the beginning. But those are things I’ve worked on and strengthened, as far as a performer. As far as being a black person on the show, there’s not a lot of us, you know? So actually, when you’re on here, it’s kind of cool. What can you say? We’re in a very coveted position.”
But not necessarily assured. Remember, Fred Armisen continued doing the Barack Obama impression even after Jay was hired, even though we now know that Jay is totally killer at it.
“There’s a big gap and void to fill. I believe that I will get more air time this year. It’s a very competitive environment, however I know only the strongest survive and I’m still here so that oughta say something.”
Absolutely, you’re still here. And I hope you start getting some seriously respect and acclaim this year — not because you’re black and someone has a quota to fill, but because you deserve it as a performer.
(Image: Dennis Van Tine / Future Image / WENN.com)