Saturday Night Live Hires First Black Female Cast Member in 5 Years

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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.

Via Deadline

  • Ramon Martinez Jr

    Hi MJ,,, I think you meant to write”Black” not “Blake” in your post title??

  • Tinawina

    I’m glad because now we can finally get skits based on people like Michelle Obama, Nikki Minaj, Beyonce, and shows like Scandal, controversies of the hour like Romney vs MSNBC, etc… stuff that has been begging to be parodied since forever. On the other hand, the poor girl will be under tremendous scrutiny from day one. If she doesn’t come out of the gate perfectly hilarious in every way, we’ll have to hear tons o’ bitching about “affirmative action” and whatnot. Honestly she’ll get that anyway. I wouldn’t want to be her. But I do want my Nikki Minaj takedown so bring it on! LOL

  • vd88

    I’m glad she was cast but if this controversy didn’t happen they wouldn’t have hired any black females.

  • vd88

    Debra Wilson from MadTV should’ve got hired too she was master at imitating ppl.

  • elliegrll

    Which leads to the conclusion that the powers that be won’t give her a fair chance to standout. The problem isn’t that they didn’t have a black actress on staff, it’s their attitude about it, and I seriously doubt that that attitude has changed.

  • chillj

    Given their ratios of male hires to female hires, who, by the by, are fifty percent of the population, it is not surprising they didn’t get around to a black hire.

  • vd88

    I don’t know about the whole they didn’t get around to it, I remember that article about them hiring five new white cast members and nothing else & if I was casting producer I could clearly see there’s not too many diversity on this show but they never cared about it.

  • september21

    I don’t watch SNL but maybe 3 times a year and know very little about its racial diversity.
    Now, I do love Jon Stewart’s array of talent. Jessica Williams is outstanding! Wonder if she was considered or would want to move to SNL.