‘SNL’ hires Sasheer Zamata, first black female cast member in five years

“Saturday Night Live” announced that it would add Sasheer Zamata to its cast – the show’s first black female cast member in five years, reports Deadline. “SNL” took plenty of heat for its lack of diversity, especially after the show hired six white actors last season. Cast member Kenan Thompson put his foot down when he said he would not dress in drag for the show anymore, leaving the show shorthanded when it came to black female characters in sketches.

Zamata will make her debut on Jan. 18; singer Drake will host the show. Zamata is a relative unknown; she trained with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York and has made appearances on “The Today Show” and Comedy Central. The University of Virginia graduate has also been featured in videos for Jest and College Humor and you may recognize her from commercials for Target and the New York Lottery. The last black female cast member on “SNL” was Maya Rudolph.

Deadline reports that Lorne Michaels quietly tested black actresses after receiving a barrage of criticism for selecting a mostly white cast; Zamata had been considered before as a candidate for the show, and was invited for a callback in December. Thompson was also criticized when he claimed that black comediennes were simply unprepared. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson told TV Guide. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

Judging from the hilarious video above, Zamata has the chops for the iconic TV show.


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