Kerry Washington to Host Saturday Night Live

Scandal star lands gig amid criticism of show's diversity.

Posted: 10/17/2013 10:45 AM EDT
Kerry Washington

Mark your calendars, Scandal fans. Kerry Washington will host Saturday Night Live on November 2, NBC announced today. It's the first time Washington will undertake hosting duties for the long-running sketch comedy show, and the timing couldn't be more significant.

SNL found itself at the center of a debate about diversity casting this week when cast member Kenan Thompson implied that the show's lack of Black female comics is due to the fact that there isn't enough available talent in that particular demographic. The comments came after his co-castmember Jay Pharoah chided the show's producers for not making good on their promise to include more Black women. "They need to pay attention," he said.

Washington is one of a very small group of women of color to have ever hosted SNL (previous hosts include Gabourey Sidibe and Jennifer Lopez). Indeed, only four Black women have been in the cast of the series in its 35 year history. This year, SNL added six new cast members — all white.

Late night politics aside, Washington is a natural fit to host SNL this season. The actress is having a huge year thanks to the success of her network drama, Scandal, and was a favorite to win the Emmy award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. She would have made history as the first Black woman to win the coveted award, but lost out to Claire Danes.

Eminem
 will be the musical guest the night Washington hosts.

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(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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