Black Comedian/Actress Shares What It’s Like To Audition For 'SNL'

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
November 15, 2013 11:42 AM
3 Comments
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We've talked this issue to death already, committing about half-a-dozen posts to the issue over the last month or so (read HERE & HERE to start), so I'll say no more. 

In the comments section of some of those posts, questions came up, asking how the show's producers go about casting for it. So, this time around, I thought I'd highlight a piece published last week on Salon.com, which I only just learned about, titled "What it’s like to audition for “SNL” as a black woman." 

In the piece, comedian Nefetari Spencer talks to Salon about the SNL auditioning process that she went through, as well as the ongoing diversity controversy that's kept the show in the headlines in recent weeks.

Here's a sample:

About six months prior to [my test day], my commercial agent said there was a project that he thought I’d be good for and asked me to send over my sketch/improv reel. I sent it and thought nothing of it. About two days later my agent called me back and [asked me to shoot 30-45 seconds of me doing characters/impressions and to turn it in over by the weekend]. I [thought], “What the hell commercial is this for?” After handing in the reel, I got a call from my manager telling me that my agency was going to submit me for “SNL.” I was speechless but also thought, “What are the odds?” About a month or two passed and honestly I had forgotten about it because rejection is a daily occurrence in an actor’s life. My manager called and in his special, I’ve-got-great-news voice said, “Nef- e- tar- ri, we just got word that the producers at ‘SNL’ like your reel, you have moved on to the next phase, which means your reel has gone up to Lorne Michaels. He has to watch your reel and decide if you should come out to New York and test for the show.” I was told it could take weeks or maybe months to get a response, but I needed to start preparing like I was going to NYC because when they call, they only give you one-day notice. So I prepped hard. I studied mannerisms of celebrities, people on the street, wrote jokes, and watched lots of YouTube.

To read the rest of the informative piece visit Salon.com HERE.

By the way, the  episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Kerry Washington a couple of weeks ago, was the highest-rated for the season.

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3 Comments

  • that dude | November 16, 2013 7:35 AMReply

    Nef is VERY funny and would have been a big asset for the show. I hope they will reconsider her. Those comments from Chris Rock about not just doing impressions is very insightful.

  • Walter Harris Gavin | November 15, 2013 2:00 PMReply

    I haven't watched SNL in eons. I was around for the beginning, but as I have aged and even though I believe young & hip can still speak to me as funny, there's a disconnect. But if SNL is supposed to push the envelope and be cutting edge then to not have a troupe with writers that represents future America, the kaleidoscopic America is certainly ass backward.

  • getthesenets | November 15, 2013 12:11 PMReply

    I think S&A needs to piece together a few excerpts from Chris Rock interviews to add some context to the entire issue

    1) Chris Rock has either endowed or helped create a comedy writing program at Howard U.

    he said that part of the problems that Black actors face in sketch shows is that the writers are all from the same background...so the sketches are all going to cater to audiences and actors f the same background

    instead of JUST complaining, he actively did something to help train the next generation of comedy writers


    2) Chris Rock has warned the current Black actor n SNL who does denzel, and he warned Wanda Sykes when she had her show....that being only being dragged out to do "impressions" of Black celebs is a trap....doesn't develop your chops and writers get lazier about creating funny original material

    sma;; number of Black female celebs that the mainstream knows but just easier to cast them as a host and have them play themselves anyway

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