Sasheer Zamata Joins Saturday Night Live

The long-running NBC sketch comedy program, “Saturday Night Live,” will add Sasheer Zamata to the cast this month, making Zamata the first Black female cast member hired in six years since Maya Rudolph left.

Only four Black women have performed as part of the “SNL” cast in nearly 40 years.

Zamata has gained popularity for her new web series, “The Pursuit of Sexiness,” which deals with dating and relationships. Her work has also been featured in Jezebel, Vulture, Think Progress, and The New York Times.

She has performed stand up comedy at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Great American Comedy Festival and the Letterman Showcase in the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival.

A controversy arose when the show was criticized for lack of diversity by the press and cast member Keenan Thompson, who said the show had difficulty finding qualified Black female comedians to hire and vowed that he will no longer play Black female characters.

Last month, “SNL” turned the controversy into comedy when “Scandal” star Kerry Washington was a guest host and asked to impersonate a number of Black female characters, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé in the same skit.

At the beginning of the show, a “SNL” producer apologized for the number of Black female characters Washington would have to play that night.

Zamata will make her debut on Jan. 18, when rapper Drake is scheduled to host.

Zamata graduated from the University of Virginia with a drama degree in 2009 and has worked with the improvisational comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade in New York.

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