‘SNL’ writer Leslie Jones promoted to featured player

Rookie writer Leslie Jones incensed many “Saturday Night Live” viewers with her edgy commentary on slavery last spring, so what does the show do? Promotes her.

Jones will be a featured player starting with this weekend’s episode, an NBC spokeswoman said.

She was one of several African-American women invited to try out for “SNL” last year when a lack of cast diversity prompted some viewer backlash. Though Sasheer Zamata was chosen for an on-air job, Jones came aboard as a writer and stirred things up with a Weekend Update commentary in May about the strengths she would bring to being a slave. “Look at me!” she said. “I’m a Mandingo!” Twitter critics called the piece “racist” and “irresponsible.”

Unfazed, “SNL” made her a frequent on-air presence this season — as a commentator as well as an actor playing a starving African and a vengeful NFL wife.

With Jones, Zamata, Jay Pharaoh, Update co-anchor Michael Che and cast veteran Kenan Thompson, that’s five African-Americans in the 15-member cast — surely the most ever.

The Latest
Judge Angela Petrone denied Kevin Jackson’s motion to vacate his conviction in a two-hour ruling on Monday, citing a lack of compelling new evidence to overturn the jury’s verdict.
This is a deeply beautiful piece of writing, bleakly funny, poetic in its plainness, aching in its intense empathy for the characters, brought to life by Laurie Metcalf and Micah Stock at Steppenwolf Theatre.
The list is a combination of obscure players on the recruiting front who raised their stock and others who have received attention — and even offers — but should have a whole lot more.
The Bears are rising, but they aren’t the only ones. There are still plenty of hurdles in their path to contending.
Chicago’s food scene is “the lifeblood” of “The Bear,” cast member Ebon Moss-Bachrach told reporters during a press conference call with co-stars Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri on Monday.