Leslie Jones confronted Kenan Thompson about his statements on the diversity of 'SNL'
Back in 2013, Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson explained why he thought the show didn’t star any black female performers: “In auditions, they just never find ones that are ready,” he told TV Guide at the time.
Comedian Leslie Jones responded to that quote by going on the Alias Smith and LeRoi podcast and calling foul on Thompson. “There’s motherf—in’ three bitches I can call right now, goddammit, that will fill that spot,” she said, according to The New Yorker. “Just because you don’t know them, that don’t mean that they don’t f—ing exist.”
Just two months after Thompson said that they weren’t finding women that were “ready,” Jones auditioned for the show. The role ended up going to Sasheer Zamata, but Jones nabbed a spot on the writing staff — one year later, she became a featured player. And sharing a building with Thompson gave Jones an opportunity to confront him.
“I came at him, like, ‘I heard what you said, motherf—er.’ He said, ‘Come in, close the door, let’s talk,'” Jones, who now calls Thompson “possibly [her] best friend on the show,” told The New Yorker.
“What I said was that the show hadn’t found the right people,” Thompson said. “That was true. And at the end of the day Leslie and Sasheer both got jobs, so I’m happy.”
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When Jones first spoke out on SNL‘s lack of diversity on the podcast in 2013, she wasn’t gunning for a position on the show. “Even if they asked me to come and audition, I’d really be like, ‘Eh, I don’t know if I can do that,’ ” she said at that time. But that inexperience in sketch circles ended up helping her.
“I tell Leslie all the time, ‘You’re everything we weren’t looking for,’ ” SNL creator Lorne Michaels told The New Yorker. “When someone’s funny, they’re funny. She was fully formed as a stand-up. I knew she’d have to learn the sketch thing, the technique part, but with some people you go, ‘Let’s just get them in the building.’ “