Sasheer Zamata is the New African-American Female Cast Member on ‘Saturday Night Live’

By January 6, 2014
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Shasheer Zamata - SNL

Well, that was fast. When we announced that Jonah Hill was joining Drake as the two hosts for episodes of “Saturday Night Live” this month, we wondered whether the promised yet-to-be-determined, female African-American cast member would debut in one of those episodes. Now we have an answer.

Deadline has learned that Sasheer Zamata has landed the high profile gig. She comes from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, like many cast members before her. She’s the first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph, who left the cast five years ago. The question of diversity at “SNL” has been under scrutiny since last year, especially in this specific representation, and producer Lorne Michaels quickly acted to fill the void.

Zamata has apparently been in the mind of “SNL” for awhile, and she was one of 12 comediennes who received callbacks to audition again on the stage of Studio 8H on December 16th, after a couple showcases went scouting for talent earlier in the month. If you’re wondering just what we can expect from Zamata, here’s her character reel from 2012:

http://youtu.be/EUVI6pIbQXQ

It’s not the greatest example of what she’ll bring to the table, and I’m sure she wouldn’t put absolutely everything she has to offer on this one reel. A better example is this stand-up set, which shows how clever she is as a writer and charismatic she is as a performer.

Anyway, Zamata will debut on “SNL” as a featured player on the January 18th show with host and musical guest Drake. She joins this year’s other new featured players, Noel Wells, Kyle Mooney, Brooks Wheelan, Beck Bennett, John Milhiser and Mike O’Brien. Will she be scrutinized more or less because of how this opportunity came about? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.