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Sasheer Zamata Joins SNL as First Black Female Cast Member in Over Six Years (VIDEO)

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! January 6, 2014 at 8:30PM

Comedian Sasheer Zamata has joined "Saturday Night Live" as the variety show's first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left SNL in 2007. Zamata will make her television debut on January 18th, SNL's first show of the new year.
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Sasheer Zamata
Sasheer Zamata

Comedian Sasheer Zamata has joined "Saturday Night Live" as the variety show's first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. Zamata will make her television debut on January 18th, SNL's first show of the new year. Check out a clip of her standup comedy below.

A drama alumna of the University of Virginia, Zamata has performed onstage with the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC and has been featured in BUST, Jezebel, Hairpin and Vulture, among other hip publications. She's also been spotted in guest roles on Comedy Central's "Inside Amy Schumer" and FX's "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell."

Back in November 2013, the internet went ablaze after SNL -- which currently has two black men aboard -- reflexively mocked its major diversity oversight in an episode hosted by Kerry Washington. In the cold open, the "Scandal" star was asked to play Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Beyonce, one after the other. Which meant she'd be running to and fro the wings in a rapid succession of costume changes.

While not all audiences were warm to the self-aware skit, it indicated that the issue was, at least, on SNL's radar. Just before Washington's skit aired, series producer Lorne Michaels cagily danced around the controversy in a press interview.

Hopefully, up-and-coming comedienne and resident New Yorker Zamata will be just the breath of fresh air this hit-or-miss show needs. 

This article is related to: News, Television, Television, SNL


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.