‘SNL’ writer Leslie Jones promoted to featured player

SHARE ‘SNL’ writer Leslie Jones promoted to featured player
SHARE ‘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.

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