Saturday Night Live took a major step toward rectifying its diversity problem today and nabbed a first-class comedian in the process. The long-running sketch comedy series added Sasheer Zamata to its cast, making Zamata the first Black woman to on the show since Maya Rudolph left in 2007.
Zamata, an alumna of the prestigious comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, will make her debut January 18 on the episode hosted by Drake. Her casting comes after SNL hosted a bicoastal audition devoted exclusively to Black female comedians, the first time in history the show has targeted a specific group in its open call. The decision to hold the open call came after a public outcry — sparked by current castmembers Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson — over the lack of women of color, particularly Black women, in the cast.
SNL poked some self-deprecating fun at itself in a sketch last month in which host Kerry Washington was run ragged playing everyone from first lady Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey to Beyoncé.
Congratulations to Zamata on her new gig!
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(Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)