NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has finally added a new black female cast member: 27-year-old Sasheer Zamata.
The hiring is the latest development in a saga that’s played out since 2006 when Maya Rudolph, the show’s last black female cast member, went solo. The conspicuous absence of black women on the late night sketch comedy program got a lot of attention last fall when “SNL” cast member Kenan Thompson told TV Guide that it was hard to find qualified black women for the show. The uproar caused executive producer Lorne Micheals to commit to finding someone who was talented enough, and invite that person to join the show this month.
Zamata will make her debut on January 18 in an episode in which Drake is the musical guest. Here’s what you should know:
1. Zamata grew up in Indianapolis and dreamed of becoming a journalist before studying theater at the University of Virginia.
2. After graduating in 2009, Zamata lit off for New York City and has been honing her skills with the Upright Citizens’ Brigade’s Diversity Program. She’s also appeared in sketches on “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” on FX and “Inside Amy Schumer” on Comedy Central.
3. She writes her own material, including well-received online shows like Doppleganger.
4. She does stand-up because she “likes doing scary things.”
5. She knew this was going to happen. Back in October, Zamata did an interview with Man Cave Daily and said that she was ready for her big break. “ I definitely feel like I’m on the cusp. It’s a very good time right now. I’m getting a lot of attention and I feel ready. I wasn’t ready a year ago, but I’m ready now.”