Saturday Night Live has welcomed its first black female cast member in five years, which comes after a highly anticipated wait. The show has been criticized for its lack of diversity as of late and was recently even accused by some of holding fake castings to calm any potential public disapproval. Luckily that proved false as SNL has hired 27-year-old Sasheer Zamata, a comedian who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009 and has been a performer with New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade.
For some time, S” has been harangued for not hiring another African American comedian since biracial Maya Rudolph left the franchise years ago. Not to mention, out of 137 regular cast members since its start in 1975, there have only been four black women on board. Some attention was recently brought to this when Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah suggested they could do less drag in their skits if SNL would just hire a black woman. SNL made light of this by having Kerry Washington guest host and play as many black women as they could fit into the episode, apologizing to her on air for the undertaking.
It’s true that the numbers are a bit skewed but it’s possible that they haven’t been as complacent as the public has perceived. Hopefully their focus has always been on trying to find the best person for the job, not the best person for the job of any specific racial association. The show has actually been scouting Sasheer for years, and she participated in a hiring showcase a two years ago, the timing just wasn’t yet right. In the meantime she was performing in NYC clubs and writing and performing her own material for online skits.
Sasheer is already familiar with the skit format that the show utilizes and word is that she has been hard at work developing characters already, so we expect her to hit the ground running. She will make her official debut on the show on January 18th the first Saturday Night Live of 2014, and a night when Drake is scheduled to host.