Today NBC confirmed that “Saturday Night Live” will hire its first black female cast member in more than five seasons. Upright Citizens Brigade alum Sasheer Zamata will join the storied sketch comedy show as a featured player, making her live debut on the January 18th show hosted by rapper Drake. Finally someone (no offense, Kerry Washington) can give First Lady Michelle Obama’s foibles the attention they deserve.
Amid criticism from viewers and its own cast members, most notably Jay Pharoah and Kenan Thompson, SNL held targeted auditions in Los Angeles and New York in late 2013. According to executive producer, Lorne Michaels, more than 25 women auditioned.
SNL hasn’t had a black woman in the cast since actress Maya Rudolph left the series in 2007. In 2013, actor Kenan Thompson, who’s played everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Oprah Winfrey, told TV Guide that he was done with drag, leaving the show with little options when it came to portraying black women in the news.
A University of Virginia alum, Zamata has appeared on “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” on FX, Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer” and MTV’s “Hey Girl.” Check out her acting reel here. Although an official statement from NBC has yet to be released Zamata’s Facebook page was inundated with congratulatory posts.