11/03/2013 at 07:00 AM EST
In a week that saw Saturday Night Live
come under the microscope of The New York Times
for the program's lack of diversity, specifically where black women cast members were concerned, the show cold-opened Saturday night with a skit starring guest host Kerry Washington, satirizing the situation – and even culminating with a pre-"Live from New York, It's Saturday Night" announcement from the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"What have we learned from this sketch?" Sharpton said, speaking directly to the camera. "As usual, nothing."
In the course of the sketch, the Scandal
star played Michelle Obama
, Oprah Winfrey
(rather broadly) but drew the line when the name Beyoncé
But the relevant topic was touched upon head on, although mock-seriously.
In a superimposed worded message that appeared on the screen, it was said: "The producers at Saturday Night Live
would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play. We make these requests because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent – and also because SNL
does not currently have a black woman on the cast. Mostly the latter. We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first."
Addressing the issue of SNL
cast diversity, the show's founding producer, Lorne Michaels, said in an interview with the Associated Press this week, "It's not like it's not a priority for us. It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."
Since its debut in 1975, SNL
's regular cast has included only four black women. The last was the biracial Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007. Recently, cast members Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson have spoken up on the issue, with Pharoah going so far as to advocate the hiring of Darmirra Brunson, from the OWN sitcom Love Thy Neighbor
Why hire her, asked The New York Times
. As the paper reported his response: " 'Because she’s black, first of all,' Mr. Pharaoh said pointedly."
See the opening sketch in the following video, and in the comments section below, please feel free to share your views.