Live-wire African-American actor and comedian whose energies were primarily focused on New York's off-Broadway performance scene. With her large eyes, open features and shock of thick hair, Vance firs...
Saturday Night Live has come under fire for their lack of diversity. When asked about having African American female cast members on the show, Kenan Thompson told TV Guide, “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” This is ironic considering Thompson has been doing sketch comedy since he was a child and barely seems "ready."
SNL has shown poor stats across the board. Fred Armisen, due to his Venezuelen and Japanese roots, was holding down double duty as the show’s longest running Latino and Asian cast member. SNL has only had one full-fledged Asian cast member if you count parts of Armisen and Rob Schneider. Nasim Pedrad holds down the fort as the only Middle Eastern cast member on the show. Kate McKinnon made history as the first out lesbian cast member on the show. She is one of three LGBTQ actors to ever be series regulars on the show. Terry Sweeney was out on the show and Danitra Vance was posthumously confirmed to be a lesbian.
Here are some of our recommendations for cast members that could help diversify the popular sketch comedy series.
Goldman co-starred with Mckinnon on The Big Gay Sketch Show. She does amazing impressions including Liza Minelli and Suze Orman, she sings, and tours the country doing stand up. She stars in a bunch of web series with her comedy partner Brandy Howard. She is currently starring on Bravo’s The People’s Couch.
Johnson has already been a cast member on Mad TV and had multiple stand up specials. A clip of her character, Bonquiqui, has received over 60 million hits on YouTube.
Nyima Funk is more than ready to be on SNL. She has performed on nearly every improv and sketch comedy show. Her credits include CW’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, NBC’s Thank God You’re Here, MTV’s Wild ‘N Out and Short Circuitz, and The George Lopez Show. Plus, she’s topical enough to get a video out at the start of this controversy.
Droege is one of the hardest working gay men in Hollywood. He has become a YouTube celebrity with his impersonation of Chloë Sevigny. He’s done sketch, improv, impersonations and starred in Hot In Cleveland, Key & Peele, How I Met Your Mother, Up All Night, and New Girl to name a few.
Shangela (D.J. Pierce)
Kenan Thompson may not want to do drag but comedian D. J. Pierce would be happy to. He made a name for himself as Shangela Laquifa Wadley. He was the first contestant to be brought back for a second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He has starred on Glee, Community, Terriers, Dance Moms, 2 Broke Girls, Detroit 187, and The Mentalist. He also stars in a hilarious web series with actress and singer, Jenifer Lewis.
Villaseñor recently appeared on America’s Got Talent where she showcased her musical impressions. Not only can she impersonate celebrities like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Zooey Deschanel, she can sing like them too. A reel of her impressions got over a million YouTube views.
Like Thompson, Iglesias also starred on All That with Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon. He was a contestant on Last Comic Standing. He even starred with Channing Tatum’s abs in Magic Mike.
These are just a few of the many comedians, impressionists and actors that could bring not only comedy but diversity to SNL. Who would you recommend?
Last performed at New York's Joseph Papp Public Theater in a production of "Marisol" by Jose Rivera in May
Made off-Broadway debut at LaMama in a revue show combining songs with comedy in which she performed with a trio known as "The Mel-O White Boys"
Cancer recurred; Vance was forced to cancel a performance engagement at the Public Theater
Last feature films, "Little Man Tate" and "Jumpin' at the Boneyard"
Made feature film debut in "Sticky Fingers"
Diagnosed with breast cancer
Eventually had one breast removed; later performed solo performance skit, "The Radical Girl's Guide to Radical Mastectomy"
Joined the cast of regulars of the latenight comedy-variety show, "Saturday Night Live", for one season
Recreated stage roles from the anthology drama, "The Colored Museum" for a PBS presentation of "Great Performances"
Live-wire African-American actor and comedian whose energies were primarily focused on New York's off-Broadway performance scene. With her large eyes, open features and shock of thick hair, Vance first made her mark at La Mama with performances mixing music, outlandish comedy and high-toned cultural references. Producer Lorne Michaels decided to sign her up for his long-running late night variety series, "Saturday Night Live", in 1985, but despite (very) occasional chances for the show's first black female regular to shine, Vance was not happy with what she considered the dominant white male ethos the program had always displayed, and she left after a season.
Soon thereafter, though, Vance began a memorable theater association with playwright-director George Wolfe, winning awards for his anthology piece examining African-American stereotypes, "The Colored Museum" (1986), as well as for the later "Spunk" (1991), based on short stories by Zora Neale Hurston. She also began a feature film career in the late 1980s and, after playing small roles in films including "Sticky Fingers" (1988) and "The War of the Roses" (1989), began to make some headway with her first leading role in "Jumpin' at the Boneyard" (1991). Unfortunately, Vance also had to contend with breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 1990. She had a mastectomy and even created a performance piece, "The Radical Girl's Guide to Radical Mastectomy", which premiered at New York's Public Theater in the 1991-92 season, but a recurrence of the disease in 1993 would finally prove fatal, robbing the theater scene of a distinctive and versatile comic presence at age 35.
survived her; editor-at-large for "Essence" magazine
survived her; mother Latrice Lee
Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
National College of Education
"She has the ability in her work to create a sublime sense of lunacy that has humanity in it." --playwright and director George Wolfe on Vance