A bright, inventive sketch player and comic actor whose portrayals of such characters as Zoraida, the in-your-face NBC page, and Queen Shaniqua, the Afrocentric critic, on four seasons of "Saturday Ni...
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Kerry Washington is going to be hosting Saturday Night Live on Nov. 2 and cast member Kenan Thompson thought it was the perfect time to lament the lack of black women playing regular roles on the show. The thing was, he didn't cast the blame on the people bringing in the talent, people like executive producer Lorne Michaels. During an interview, he said that it was the fact that weren't any good black female comedians.
The reaction was swift amid the Internet and Twitterverse. Aisha Tyler immediately branded him 'dumb' and even a fellow male cast member, Jay Pharoah was like, "Uh, dude, here's one. Her name's Damirra Brunson. Check it out."
It's true, there has been quite a dearth of black women on the show over the decades: the only ones I can think of are Ellen Cleghorne and Maya Rudolph. For all we know, Washington may have been brought in as a host to try to quiet the impending firestorm. Us, cynical? Never.
Another reason Thompson brought it up is because he wants to stop having to dress up for ladies' roles in skits as well. He's lucky that he didn't grow up in Ancient Greece...ALL female parts were played by men. Looks like Pharoah is going to be donning those outfits for the most part, from now on.
The thing is, there's a lot of competition for the parts on the show, but there's only so much of an ensemble that can be gathered. It would be great if there could be another black woman on the show, but I don't think Thompson is right for blaming the talent. It's a big world and there's only so many parts.
But I will be glad to see him out of drag. Maybe Washington might also want a side gig during Scandal hiatuses?
Performed in comedy clubs and also appeared Off-Broadway and in the New York Shakespeare Festival's productions of "Marriage Proposal" and "Looking for Tomorrow"
Had featured role in "Mr. Wrong"
Became a regular on NBC's "Saturday Night Live!"
Co-starred in the feature "This is My Life"
Starred in her own sitcom on The WB, "Cleghorne"
Appeared on several episodes of "In Living Color"
A bright, inventive sketch player and comic actor whose portrayals of such characters as Zoraida, the in-your-face NBC page, and Queen Shaniqua, the Afrocentric critic, on four seasons of "Saturday Night Live" (1991-95) put her on the upward career tract. <p> Ellen Cleghorne was raised in the projects of Brooklyn, and after earning a degree at Hunter College on Manhattan's Upper East Side, began performing standup in clubs throughout New York City. She also performed with "The Family, Inc.", a troupe which performed mainly at prisons, and appeared in two productions with the New York Shakespeare Festival, "Marriage Proposal," and "Looking for Tomorrow." Although she had been featured on several episodes of Keenen Ivory Wayans' variety series "In Living Color" (Fox) in the early 1990s, Cleghorne was noticed by the producers of "Saturday Night Live" while performing at a New York comedy club and was asked to join the show in 1991. During the course of four seasons, she only created original characters, but offered dead-on impersonations of Anita Hill, Whoopi Goldberg, and singer Natalie Cole, among others. She withdrew from "SNL" to headline her own sitcom, the short-lived "Cleghorne" (1995-96), playing a single mother coping with daily life on the fledgling new network, The WB.<p> Cleghorne's work in feature films was slower in getting established. She made a quick appearance in "Turk 182" (1985), but did not have a part of substance until Nora Ephron's "This is My Life" (1992), as a talk show host. She also had a supporting role in the Ellen DeGeneres vehicle "Mr. Wrong" (1996).
born c. 1982
Cleghorne credits Whoopi Goldberg as her career inspiration.
Cleghorne claims to be an expert in the urban jumping rope game, "Double Dutch."