Saturday Night Live Hires LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as Writers

NBC sketch comedy hired two new African-American female writers after hiring a new cast member

By Chris Harnick Jan 08, 2014 9:28 PMTags
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The Saturday Night Live changes keep on coming. Hot on the heels of casting Sasheer Zamata, the first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007, SNL has hired two new writers, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, E! News has confirmed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tookes and Jones were discovered during SNL's recent auditions and will join the writers on Monday. SNL held auditions in Los Angeles and New York for new talent in December.

Jones has had roles on Sullivan and Son and The League, and appeared on HBO's Def Comedy Jam. Tookes is a former newscaster. Her character reel is below.

THR reports Jones was a finalist for the cast member spot that ultimately went to Zamata. Zamata makes her SNL debut on Saturday, Jan. 18 with Drake serving as the host and musical guest. Following the news of her hiring, Jones took to Twitter.

Me and Lakendra got hired to SNL as writers!!! #awesomesauce

— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) January 8, 2014

SNL came under fire after six new actors—Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O'Brien, Noël Wells and Brooks Wheelan, all of them white—joined the show for season 39. It poked fun at the media attention when Scandal star Kerry Washington hosted and played several black characters in the cold open sketch.

Following the media attention, executive producer Lorne Michaels told The New York Times it was "100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman" as part of the cast.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)