Damon Wayans continued the trend of one-season Black cast members. He was fired from SNL
for improvising during a live sketch, “Mr. Monopoly”
. Wayans landed In Living Color
Maya Rudolph won over audiences with her divine singing and an ability to transform into characters with the switch of a wig. Rudolph pulled impersonations from Whitney Houston to her most notable, Donatella Versace
Finesse Mitchell, best known for his recurring role as Starkisha, joined SNL
in ’03. Hired as a featured player, after two seasons Mitchell was promoted to regular cast member. Due to budget cuts, he was let go.
Yvonne Hudson was the first Black woman added to SNL
. Her run (1980-81) was cut short after one season; she continued to appear on the series as un-credited extra.
Chris Rock, the “bad boy of SNL
,” was cast on the series with recurring sketches as Nat X. Growing frustrated with playing token Black roles, Rock left the show after three years, joining Damon Wayans at In Living Color
Garrett Morris was an original cast member.
He won over audiences with recurring sketches as the inarticulate Dominican baseball player Chico Escuela, and ear-splitting translator for the deaf in News for the Hard of Hearing.
Ellen Cleghorne killed as the overbearing NBC page Zoraida
and the gossip journalist in African garb, Queen Shenequa
Dean Edwards’s voice-over talent performed over 20 impersonations from 2001-03, ranging from Michael Jackson to Chris Tucker to Lil’ Wayne.
Danitra Vance, SNL
’s second Black regular, made noise for her recurring sketches as an ambitious Black actress in “That Black Girl,” and teenage mom Cabrini Green Jackson. Disgusted with stereotypical roles, Vance left after one season.
Eddie Murphy’s four-season run was as hot
as the tub in his James Brown sketch
. He dominated telecasts with characters like Buckwheat
Jerry Minor’s most memorable work was his role as Grand Master Raps in the sketch “Rap Street.” Hired as an SNL
actor-writer, he was relieved of his duties due to budget cuts.
Before Kenan Thompson ignited a controversial debate as himself, the Nickelodeon alum first appeared on SNL
as featured player in ’03. Thompson holds the title for the longest tenured Black cast member.
For 10 seasons, Tim Meadows held the title for the longest tenured Black cast member. (Kenan Thompson now holds the title). Meadows' sketch of the Ladies Man (an overtly sexual talk show host) translated into a feature film
The youngest Black cast member since Eddie Murphy, Jared “Jay Pharoah” Farrow was hired as a featured player after generating a huge online buzz from his impersonation of Barack Obama.
Tracy Morgan won over audiences with his muffled voice and memorable sketches like “Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
” and spot-on celeb impersonations. Tina Fey recruited him as a regular on NBC's 30 Rock