Kerry Washington is undeniably one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood.
But with her upcoming hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, could she also be called a sellout?
Washington, the star of ABC’s sizzling “Scandal,” has made headlines as the only black female lead of a prime network drama in decades. Her Emmy nomination for her role as fixer Olivia Pope made headlines: She became the first African American to score a nomination in the key actress category since Cicely Tyson in 1995.
When she accepted the President’s Award at the NAACP’s Image Awards earlier this year, she positioned herself as an entertainer who was proud to be an advocate of the arts and to serve on President Obama’s committee on arts and humanities, saying she wanted the entertainment industry and the arts to be “inclusive” of all races.
But in hosting NBC’s sketch-comedy series, Washington is giving her name and talent to a show that has come under fire from within its ranks and from outside observers for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of African American females in its cast: The series has had only four black female cast members in its 39-year history, and none since Maya Rudolph left in 2007.
It’s certainly no coincidence that Washington was tapped to host the show as the furor has continued.
[Updated at 2:30 p.m., Nov. 1: NBC executives said they have been negotiating with Washington since last spring to host the show. An earlier version of this post said the invitation came amid criticism of the show’s diversity.]
While it’s understandable that Washington is seeking to heighten her profile and take advantage of her hot streak, could she have made a more signficant statement about the show’s lack of progress in hiring minorities by declining the invitation? She certainly has been outspoken in the past.
Maybe the issue will be addressed during the show. Maybe not.
Washington’s TV series boss, Shonda Rhimes, certainly hasn’t been shy in speaking out on diversity issues. Rhimes, the creator of “Scandal,” fired off an infamous tweet last year targeting Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of ABC Family’s dance school comedy-drama “Bunheads”: “You couldn’t cast even ONE young dancer of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this show? NOT ONE?”
Would Rhimes have the same criticism of “Saturday Night Live”?
What do you think? Is Kerry Washinton a sellout for hosting “Saturday Night Live”?