The premiere of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs on February 8th, so her Daily Show fans have just under two weeks to prepare for her triumphant return to late night. However, Bee is already setting herself apart from her competition in the writing department. In her recent profile in New York Magazine, the comedian outlined how much work went into ensuring her writers weren't all white men.
Bee and Miller have worked hard to create a diverse production staff, carefully crafting a blind application process to make it more accessible to people who have not traditionally spent any time in writers’ rooms. The result is a writing staff that is 50 percent female and 30 percent nonwhite. It’s a mix of experience levels as well; there is one writer who was previously at Letterman and another whose last job was at the Maryland DMV. "If we don’t do anything else right, we hired incredible people across the board," says Bee. "Our hiring process was great."According to Bee, the show's process stands out as it confronts the industry's diversity problem head on. "There’s a lot of people sitting around in rooms discussing how to make it happen as opposed to just, like, doing it," she said.
Late night has struggled with diversity for years
Late night has received much scrutiny in recent years regarding how shows staff their writer's rooms, and hosts have struggled so far to turn platitudes into practical results. Ahead of the launch of Late Night with Stephen Colbert, Colbert wrote a guest column in Glamour explaining why he believed women should run everything, only to have it later revealed his writing staff was comprised primarily of men. John Oliver helped conduct two rounds of blind selection to help reduce prejudice in hiring for Last Week Tonight, but the show still only brought on two female staffers out of nine writers. However, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore has managed to buck the trend somewhat; a source told The Verge that, though white men make up about 45 percent of the writing staff, blacks and women are fairly well represented.
Full Frontal isn't done making its staff as inclusive as possible, though. The show is currently designing a mentorship program to help bring aspiring writers from traditionally ignored communities into the fold. It will be for the "pockets of people who don’t formally have access to this world, who want to be in this world, who have no idea how to get there, and who demonstrate some skill in some capacity and a passion for it."