‘Saturday Night Live’ Finds Its Black Female Cast Member: Sasheer Zamata

'Saturday Night Live' Finds Its Black Female Cast Member: Sasheer Zamata

The Upright Citizens Brigade vet has appeared on “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” and “Inside Amy Schumer”

“Saturday Night Live” has hired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member, following a search for a black female to join the ensemble, an individual with knowledge of the hire told TheWrap.

Zamata, who began performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre after moving to New York City in 2009, has performed on the FX show “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell,” as well as the Comedy Central offering “Inside Amy Schumer.”

See photos: ‘Saturday Night Live's’ Not So Colorful Past: A History of Its Diversity

Zamata's work has also been featured in Bust, Jezebel, Vulture, Time Out New York and other venues, as well as in online videos for Jest and College Humor. Her live appearances include the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Great American Comedy Festival and the Letterman Showcase in the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival.

Zamata is the first black female cast member on NBC's late-night institution since Maya Rudolph departed the series in 2007. She will make her debut on Jan. 18, on an episode that will feature Drake as both host and musical guest.

Also read: ‘SNL’ Auditions Black Women on Heels of Criticism

“SNL” has been under the gun to find a black female cast member since cast member Jay Pharoah called attention to the diversity deficit and picked up steam after fellow African-Amercian cast member Kenan Thompson suggested that no female comediennes were qualifed. The show itself addressed the issue in one of its opening skits, when host Kerry Washington was called upon to play a variety of black women, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce.

As reported earlier by TheWrap, the show held two audition showcases in New York and Los Angeles in December for an African-American female cast member. One comedian who auditioned,  told blog The Jasmine Brand, “The audition came about from an inside source from ‘SNL.’ I don't think any of us had a clue about the showcase until two days prior.”

Deadline first reported the hiring.

  • http://www.chilltowntv.com/ ChilltownTV

    Great choice! She's very funny.

  • Lame

    So is this how tv and movies are going to be made now? Racial bullying instead of merit and excellence. No wonder tv and movies have lost their edge and appeal.

    What about green eyed left handed people? There are no green eyed left handed people! What about Republicans? Are there any Republicans? What about Buddhists? It's sad how some groups demand to be gifted opportunity and some groups make their own opportunity.

    • SeppiChicago

      Bitterness is not a good trait to have – it's the new year, try and be a better person. No one gifted these women anything. Also: there are no funny republicans.

    • Colleen Birchett

      Because of the practice of discrimination against Black people, those who succeed have to be better at their trade than their counterpart White person. Probably that is why she has merited this spot, with excellence. Probably she is more qualified than her peers. You stand corrected, LAME.

  • Colleen Birchett

    It is so unfair that she has to survive the pressure of performing above and beyond her peers so that no one can say she is merely a token. More than likely there are hundreds of other Black women out there who can perform at the same level, but are overlooked because of the color of their skin, and because it is assumed that they are naturally inferior, regardless of what they can do. She is under quite a bit of pressure, with millions watching. The same type pressure has never been faced by her white counterparts.

    • David

      I agree, I hope she kills it and never has to answer any questions about why or how she's on the show.

    • The Absolute Truth

      As an gay Asian-American, I find it offensive that African-Americans cry about discrimination, bigotry, and racism. As the fairly recent Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage initiative in California pointed out, the biggest bigots out there are AFRICAN-AMERICANS, who voted for the measure by a 70% margin, far surpassing the barely over 50% of whites. When Isaiah Washington called a fellow cast member a “F—–t”, he was awarded by the NAACP with an Image Award (and a standing ovation)! Not only are African-Americans the biggest bigots, they are also the biggest hypocrites too!

  • Comedic genius

    Obviously, the first skit they need to do is her dressed up as a black man doing all of Kenan's parts with him furious in the background… Since he refused to dress up as a black woman and all until they hired one.

  • David

    It's okay to say Black female, the NAACP uses the term Black and I think they'd know.

  • TOM

    Though there most be thousands of funny black females around, it seems that Lorne Michaels purposely avoided hiring any type of black comedian for the last 8 years to avoid any type of Michelle Obama lampooning. Let's see how brave NBC is now…or will they just continue to avoid any mention of the First Lady.

  • Carla Briscoe

    The only thing surprising about this news, is that they did not hire Sasheer sooner. I've seen her perform over the years, and she's an obvious choice, and very talented. She's going to kill on SNL.

  • John Reinert

    Hopefully she does so well we don't need to say she is African American woman. I think that would be fairly obvious.