CHICAGO (CBS) — On the heels of Saturday Night Live being pushed to hire more minorities, Second City is now offering tuition-free fellowships to actors of color.

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“Having those shared sensibilities is huge,” Dionna Griffin, the director of outreach and diversity for Second City, told WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller.

She is a woman of color, and she remembers a sketch she did at Second City in Detroit–and how valuable it was to be able to play off another actor of color.

“It was about two white people who come into downtown Detroit and myself and Rico were on stage,” Griffin said. “We were the owners of the Soul Food Restaurant.

“What happens when two people come out of their element, downtown in Detroit to a soul food restaurant to talk about their son writing the N-word on the wall.

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“And a pin could drop in that audience.”

Griffin says Second City is offering 16 tuition-free fellowships for minorities.

“I see it as a gift,” Griffin said.

“It comes as a great time because we are looking to increase those opportunities and make this work more accessible, particularly to diverse voices in improvisation.”

The fellowship is named after Bob Curry, the first African-American on Second City’s main stage.

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That was in 1966.