Sasheer Zamata, who has trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade, has been hired to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, becoming the first female black cast member since the Maya Rudolph left the late-night sketch show five years ago. Reports of secret auditions to find a performer to specifically fit the almost-offensively missing demographic became not-so-secret in December. Zamata was one of at least three women to get a callback later in the month. Her first live episode will be the Jan. 18 outing, featuring Drake as host and musical guest.
SNL’s lack of diversity has incited rumblings of discontent for decades—there have been only four women of color on the series in its 38-year history. But the rumblings erupted into roars late last year when Kenan Thompson—the male actor who, upsettingly, is the one most often tasked with playing black female characters—insinuated in an interview that the reason there are no female performers of color on the show is that there are no qualified candidates.
An aghast blogosphere instantly took issue with Thompson’s comments, intensifying the spotlight on SNL’s diversity issue. How could a series that skewers modern politics and pop culture have six actors on deck to play Matthew McConaughey but none to play the First Lady of the United States? Baffled by that tidbit of information, the offended hordes not only argued that there are plenty of qualified candidates but also helpfully offered up solutions. Zamata was at the top of almost all of those lists.
Zamata graduated three years ago from the University of Virginia, has been performing at the UCB Theatre in New York, and has already logged an impressive resume of sketch appearances—both on-screen and in live theater.
One video written by Zamata originally in 2012 caught fire again last month when Lena Dunham tweeted her seal of approval.
source: daily beast