“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.”
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.
“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.