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Sasheer Zamata is SNL’s First Black Female Castmember in Six Years


Congratulations, Sasheer Zamata on making a giant break into comedy as Saturday Night Live‘s newest castmember! We hope you enjoy playing Michelle Obama and Oprah. That’s sort of a joke, but also a sincere wish, because otherwise would be unfortunate.

SNL doesn’t have a particularly extensive history of featuring the talents of black female comedians, but has come under more focused criticism in the past few months, after castmember Kenan Tompson announced that he would no longer be cross-dressing to portray famous black women in sketches, and saw fit to blame the show’s lack of black female castmembers on, get this, a lack of talent in black female comedians. SNL has been without a female castmember of African descent since the departure of Maya Rudolf in 2007.

Zamata, a veteran of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, was chosen to join the cast after a multi-city search and callback process with twelve candidates. While one WOC doesn’t magically fix SNL‘s diversity dearth, Zamata is a very cool, funny lady, and it’ll be awesome to see her in action on the show. Our sister site The Jane Dough, who know a lot more about comedy than we do, has a great roundup of Zamata’s work from YouTube in their article on her hiring. My personal favorite is a video where she tells the story of being flashed by a stranger at 5am as she walked home to her apartment, and her subsequent efforts to get inside the head of a guy who just wants to pull his dick out.

(via The Jane Dough.)

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  • Dessa Brewington

    Poked around a bit and read Keenan Thompson’s answer to why there were no black women on cast: “It’s just a tough part of the business … Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” Well, it looks like the show producers have finally overcome something, which is good, but if that reflects the attitude in general at SNL (and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least), that’s some major bullshit.

    I remember back in the 90s “In Living Color” came about precisely because of SNL’s attitudes toward black actors. SNL is better now than it was then, but maybe they still have a ways to go.

    And honestly, how bad at comedy do you have to be to not be up to SNL’s standards these days? I hope they hired a few writers along with Zamata (or hope that she pulls a Kristen Wiig and manages to be funny despite poor writing).

  • Anonymous

    It’s sort of funny about how the blanket defense from everyone on the show was that there were no black women because the show is about being funny and they only take the best of the best…
    ….When IMO the last several years have been a real garbage dump. So clearly their current strategy wasn’t working too well.

  • Anonymous

    In Living Color is the best of them all in my opinion. No one has ever topped David Alan Grier and Damon Wayans as Men on Film. No one.

  • Dessa Brewington

    I like the Fey/Poehler weekend updates (that was a great era for SNL), but yeah, in the 90s, there’s no doubt that In Living Color had them all beat.

  • Greycat

    OMG. After watching her videos I am in love with her already. Though, I’d rather see her as a third on Key and Peele.

  • regularjoe

    Never heard of her, so I am not familiar with her work, but that being said..

    1) Did she get the job because she displayed the level of talent they were looking for?
    2) Do the producers believe she will gel well with the existing cast?

    or

    3) She got the job because she is a WOC and they were hoping to shut the critics up?

  • Anonymous

    All of which you ask because you assume when scouting for a black female comic they couldn’t/wouldn’t find one who displayed the level of talent they were looking for?

  • Anonymous

    Happy for her but SNL has been dead for long time.