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'Saturday Night Live' adds two black female writers to staff

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC's sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" has hired two black women as writers, the network said on Wednesday, days after the show added a black female comedian to its cast.

Comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones will join the writing staff on Monday, an NBC spokeswoman said. Earlier this week, the program said comedian Sasheer Zamata would join the cast, after it was widely criticized for a lack of diversity among its female performers.

The news that Tookes and Jones would be hired was first reported by industry trade publication The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, which said both comedians had recently auditioned during the show's search for a black female actor.

Zamata is the first African-American female to join the cast since Maya Rudolph's exit from the show in 2007. Actor Kenan Thompson filled in by playing prominent black women such as Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Angelou, but has said he would no longer continue to play those roles.

Zamata's addition means the show can finally add to its skits first lady Michelle Obama, whose character has been left out of much of its political satire because of casting issues.

"Saturday Night Live," which airs live from New York on Comcast Corp's NBC, previously added six new cast members for the beginning of its 39th season in September.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken and Eric Walsh)

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