SNL’s Donald Trump invite leaves Hispanic groups ‘flabbergasted’
“Saturday Night Live” is under fire for allowing Donald Trump to host the show on November 7.
The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda sent a letter Thursday to Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of SNL, and Stephen Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, saying the groups were “flabbergasted” the show had invited Trump to host.
Trump has been criticized for his incendiary comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants being criminals and rapists, and the letter said, “Allowing Trump to host SNL will legitimize and validate his anti-Latino comments.”
In their letter to Micheals and Burke, the Latino activists questioned how the show could “justify casting zero Latinas over 41 seasons and only two Latinos over the same period, while promoting Trump’s divisive speech toward Latinos.”
This is the second time the groups have requested a meeting with Michaels. “On one hand, Comcast is reaching out to Latino viewers on its English language platforms and on Telemundo, its Spanish-language network, while it uses the other hand to face slap us with this unconscionable invitation to Trump, ” the letter reads.
Michaels has yet to respond to their inquiries.
Neither Michaels nor “Saturday Night Live” responded to requests for comment from CNNMoney on Friday.
In addition, thousands have signed a MoveOn.org petition calling on NBC to disinvite Trump from the show. The petition, which states there is “no room for hate on Saturday Night Live,” was quickly nearing its goal of 25,000 signatures.
In June, NBCUniversal, the network that airs SNL, cut business ties with Trump and chose not to air the Miss USA Pageant and the Miss Universe Pageant, which were jointly owned by NBC and Trump. The company explained its decision in a statement saying, “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.” The move was applauded by Latino advocacy groups.
Thursday’s letter is the second the consortium has sent to Michaels about Latino diversity. The first was sent in 2013 after the show faced sharp criticism over its lack of black women in the cast.
After that backlash, the show added Sasheer Zamata to the cast and hired Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes as writers for the show. Jones has since been promoted to the cast where she appears on Weekend Update and in other skits.
As the show heads into its 41st season, “Saturday Night Live” has only had two Latino cast members, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen. It has never had a Latina cast member.
Armisen has played a character named “Fericito,” a Venezuelan nightclub comedian whose spoke in heavily accented English with popular lines like “Ay Dios Mio” (Oh My God) and “I’m just keeding.” Sanz played Fericitios sidekick, Manuel Pantalones.
Another popular Latino themed Armisen skit was “The Manuel Ortiz Show,” a kitschy take on a Spanish language talk show where guests had to dance merengue each time someone entered or left the set.
In recent years, Latina characters have been played by Cicely Strong. But the skits have often fallen flat with Latino audiences for playing on outdated stereotypes of Latinas. In one skit, Strong played “Marisol,” a Venezuelan woman, replete with a red flower ticked behind her ear and a thick Spanish accent, who was clueless about the fact that her new white boyfriend is a sexist.
Strong has also played “Mimi Morales,” a young, Latina political activist who has little knowledge about politics and whose overly romantic boyfriend is a dark skinned Dominican man who can’t stop touching her.
Armisen and Sanz recently announced they had teamed up with Michaels’ Broadway Video unit to create a digital comedy channel aimed at the English-speaking Hispanic audience called “Más Mejor,” which means “more better” in English. The channel will be a joint venture between Broadway Video and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises.