Sasheer Zamata Joins ‘SNL’ Cast Amid Controversy Over Black Women
By Ross Luippold
“Saturday Night Live” will add Sasheer Zamata to its cast this month, according to a spokesperson for the show. Deadline first broke the news that Zamata will join the cast after months of press surrounding the lack of black women on the NBC sketch program.
Zamata comes to “SNL” from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, the comedy collective co-founded by “SNL” alum Amy Poehler that has served as a training ground for many young comedy stars.
“SNL” currently has no black women in the cast, a fact that received criticism from the press as well as within its own cast. After Kenan Thompson vowed to no longer portray black women in drag, many questioned whether the show would indeed add a black woman in order to portray celebrities such as Beyonce and First Lady Michelle Obama. (Only four black women have been in the “SNL” cast after nearly 40 years.)
In a break with the tight-lipped secrecy typical for “SNL” casting decisions, word broke that the show’s producers were indeed auditioning black women for a mid-season addition. They also addressed the situation in the opening of an episode hosted by Kerry Washington this year, in which Washington was expected to portray several black female celebrities since nobody in the cast could do so.
Like many of the new cast members, Zamata has been tirelessly writing and acting in live and online comedy that has been written up in a variety of sources. Her work has attracted the attention of celebrities such as Lena Dunham, who tweeted one of her sketches last month.