After hiring Sasheer Zamata earlier this week as a new cast member, Lesley Goldberg of The Hollywood Reporter revealed today that the show is adding two African-American women, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, to its writers' room as well, in a move that may in fact do more to change the culture of the show.
Goldberg reported that both Tookes and Jones auditioned during the recent showcases aimed at finding a female black cast member. Jones, according to Goldberg, was a finalist for the cast member spot. The show's efforts to diversify came after receiving intense criticism at the beginning of the season for the whiteness of their incoming cast.
While adding the hilarious Zamata to the on screen cast is obviously a step forward for the show, having Tookes' and Jones' voices in the writers' room may well have more of an impact on the show, and is an even better sign that the show is serious about responding to criticism. Following Kerry Washington's hosting gig, Laura Bennett at The New Republic wrote that the episode "did more than prove the necessity of black women in the cast. It also underlined their absence from the writers' room. For all Washington’s charm, the material was mostly caricatured and flat. "
Watch Tookes' character reel:
And Jones' stand up: