SNL Hires Comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as Writers
2:47 pm, January 8th | by Kady Ruth Ashcraft
Are Saturday Night Live producers reading our dream journal? They must be because along with adding NY comedian Sasheer Zamata as a featured player, SNL has just hired two new Black women writers. (If you do happen to be reading our dream journals, Anonymous Producers, just ignore all those things we wrote about Joseph Gordon-Levitt…) Comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones will be joining the show’s 24-person writers’ room, making them the only two Black women writers on staff.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tooks, a former news reporter from Florida, performs regularly at iO West. Checkout a video of Tooks performing at a live showcase below; her breadth of celebrity impressions is pretty incredible:
Second new hire Leslie Jones isn’t a stranger to television: the comedian has guest-starred on Sullivan & Son and The League, and Showtime aired her comedy special Problem Child in 2011. Below is a clip of her opening for Katt Williams.
While the news of Zamata joining the SNL cast was incredibly exciting, we resented the sketch show for only hiring one WOC out of the talented bounty that auditioned. Finding out that Lorne Michaels took action to break up the lily-white boys’ club known as the SNL writers’ room does temper some of our wariness. As Harvard Lampoon president Alexis Wilkinson said a few weeks ago on NPR, “I think we pay a lot of attention to the performative aspect of comedy, but as far as the number of performers go, there’s way more gender and race equality in performance of comedy than there has ever been in writing.” We respect SNL for taking some steps — although they are baby steps — to correct the imbalance.
Best of luck to Kendra and Leslie! We can’t wait to laugh!