As the TV industry continues to make an attempt to boost diversity in Hollywood, Taraji P. Henson has been confirmed to host Saturday Night Live on April 11, making her only the tenth Black woman to host the show.
Meanwhile, police dash cam footage that captured her son’s alleged racial profiling has hit the web and sparked debate over whether or not her son was actually being profiled by police.
The TV and film industries are the latest to fall under public scrutiny for a stunning lack of diversity despite the diverse nature of the industry’s key demographics.
Studies have shown that Black people consume the most media despite the fact that popular TV shows never seemed to reflect that audience.
That’s what made hit shows like Fox’s Empire so groundbreaking, regardless of how people felt about the show’s actual content or production value.
Now the Empire star is preparing take on another major role—guest host of the popular comedy skit show, Saturday Night Live.
It’s an incredible opportunity considering how few Black women have had the chance to host the show in the past.
Out of more than 500 celebrity hosts, SNL has only welcomed 41 Black men and nine Black women.
Henson will be the first Black woman to host the show since Kerry Washington flaunted her comedic chops on the show in 2013.
Before Washington, fellow Empire actress Gabourey Sidibe hosted in 2010.
While many are pointing fingers at SNL for the lack of diversity in its hosts, the lack of Black men and women hosting is actually a greater indicator of Hollywood’s tendency to shut Black stars out.
SNL’s formula for finding celebrity guest hosts is a simple one—find the biggest star of the moment.
Who is the most popular character of the most popular show? Who is starring in the biggest upcoming film? Who is dominating ratings, reviews, charts, etc.?
That’s typically what leads to SNL identifying their special guest host. When Hollywood has been shoving Black stars out of the way and refusing to give them the same opportunities that white stars have been allotted, it’s no surprise that Black stars have rarely been seen on SNL’s stage.
This certainly doesn’t take any blame away from SNL, however. The show has been open about its lack of diversity and has made steps to try to mend those issues.
It has in recent years added two Black females to the cast, as well as hired two Black female writers.
Now that the TV industry is about to welcome its most diverse pilot season yet, fingers are crossed that more Black stars will get their chance on SNL’s iconic stage.
As Henson gears up for her shot, however, claims about her son being racially profiled are still making headlines.
While University of Southern California officials are still looking into claims that Henson’s son was profiled on their campus, dash cam footage captured the incident Henson mentioned during her interview with Uptown magazine.
Henson told the magazine that an officer profiled her son and then gave him a citation for possession of marijuana after he “illegally” searched the vehicle.
“It was bogus because they didn’t give him the ticket for what he was pulled over for,” she added.
The edited dashcam video confirms that the officer didn’t give Henson’s son a ticket for the traffic violation although he insisted it was because he was trying to give Henson’s son a break.
“I’m not going to give you a citation for running that yellow because that would actually put a moving violation on your driving license, and you are going to have to go traffic school and all that stuff, so I am helping you by not giving you a violation on it,” the officer explains. “All I am going to do is take the weed from you.”
When the officer approached the driver’s side window, Johnson admitted to the officer that he had marijuana in the car and added that he had a prescription for it.
He was unable to provide any proof of the prescription but the officer encouraged him to bring the prescription to court in order to have the charges dropped.
Johnson also admitted to the officer that he had Ritalin in the car that he didn’t have a prescription for.
The officers never found the Ritalin, however, and just warned Johnson that having the prescription pill illegally could lead to more serious charges.
After telling the officers that he smoked the marijuana roughly two hours ago, Johnson was asked to perform a sobriety test, which he passed.
The incident happened a few miles away from USC’s campus, where Johnson says he was leaving before heading to a friend’s home in Calabasas.
Henson’s rep responded to the video, obtained by the L.A. Times, telling the publication that they have “said all and wish to protect her son’s privacy.”