NBC has officially announced that Saturday Night Live has added Sasheer Zamata to the cast as a featured player.
An African American, Sasheer comes amid controversy over lack of diversity in the SNL cast. The show returned in the fall with 5 new white guys, and a white girl as featured players, which raised a few eyebrows.
Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a black female in the cast since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. In the show’s entire history, there have only been 4 women of color.
The controversy became heated when cast member Kenen Thompson, an African American actor, said the lack of black women on the show came down to the availability of candidates “that are ready.”
That set off a firestorm in the media, with critical reports offering lists of actresses with impressive resumes. That lead eventually to rumors in December of “secret” auditions being held to find a suitable actress to fill the void. Sasheer was one of 3 women who were called back later in the month. She was also on the top of lists of suggestions by those outraged pundits in the blogosphere.
A graduate of the University of Virginia, Sasheer trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. You can check out her work at her official website.
Sasheer will debut on the mid-season premiere, set to air on January 18. Drake will do double duty as host and musical guest.