Sasheer Zamata

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There’s little debate that Saturday Night Live’s recent addition of Sasheer Zamata to its featured player cast is in direct response to continued outcry over the lack of diversity on the show (or, more realistically, there should be little debate over that particular subject), and while those are perhaps not ideal conditions for a new talent to be added into the venerable show, Zamata has one thing going for her – she’s very funny and she’s in possession of a whole mess of skills the show needs. Sure, it would have been great if she could have been folded into the show in a “normal” way at the beginning of a new season, but that time has passed and now it’s time to look forward to the funny lady’s first show and what she can add to the show on her own merits. (And, as it happens, she’s far from the first addition to the show in the middle of season – recently, Kate McKinnon joined the show in the spring of 2012, and that’s worked out pretty damn well so far.) Of course, when SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels finally doubled down on the controversy surrounding the show’s lack of an African-American star, he really doubled down on it – telling the press that the show would be adding in at least one new comedienne of color before the it picked up again after the holidays, possibly two. Turns out, Michaels was underselling their additions – because Saturday […]

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Sasheer Zamata

The long-simmering drama around Saturday Night Live and its lack of diversity in its cast (principally pinned on the fact that the cast has not included a black comedienne since Maya Rudolph left the show five years ago) has now finally come to its logical conclusion – as our Dustin Hucks shared yesterday, when the show returns later this month, it will include the talents of Sasheer Zamata as a featured player. The team at SNL (and especially Lorne Michaels) has been under pressure to add an African-American female to their already bloated cast for a few months now, and while the addition of Zamata pushes the cast into straight up crazy numbers (seventeen people, you guys, seventeen), she’s a great pick from a very impressive pool. To recap, the show has been under fire for months now, as its new season saw the addition of six new featured players – all white, five of whom are men – leaving the cast still lacking a black comedienne. Star Kenan Thompson was asked about it later, kicking off still more chatter, which was then actually answered on the show…by finding host Kerry Washington saddled with lots of jokes acknowledging the issue, some of which were funny, all of which sort of missed the mark. With pressure not abating, Michaels and company went hunting for a new comedienne – both in New York City and Los Angeles – with news soon hitting the wire that Michaels had vowed to hire at least […]

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SASHEER ZAMATA

It may appear a capitulation born of growing pressure and bad PR on the part of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, but the addition of Upright Citizens Brigade alum Sasheer Zamata will likely be seen as a step in the right direction in hiring its first black actress in over five years. SNL has stumbled through an odd patch in the media of late, as well as dealing with the heavy blow of shedding veteran cast members like Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis, with head writer and Weekend Update lead Seth Meyers jumping ship later this season to take over Late Night from Jimmy Fallon. Michaels went on a featured player hiring spree, throwing together one of the largest casts in years of new faces, all of which were notably not particularly diverse, and may of whom have been noticeably absent through much of this season’s run, which has relied heavily on its veterans.

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Last week brought the not entirely unforeseen (and probably a bit necessary) news that Saturday Night Live was not only looking for a black comedienne to join their lacking cast, but that they were doing it with an aim to find a new player for the sketch comedy show post-haste. The news that the show had held a showcase for black female performers in Los Angeles was the first indication that Lorne Michaels and company were planning on adding to their roster in the new year, and that exciting news was soon joined by Michaels’ official confirmation that they are indeed looking to add one (or even two!) new players in January after the show’s holiday hiatus and word that the show had also held a similar showcase in New York City. It now seems that our new star(s) will likely be coming to the wide world of television out of the New York City showcase, as The New York Daily News (via Gothamist) now shares that at least three of the performers from the NYC group have been offered callbacks. But if we’re going to be getting familiar with at least one of these ladies (and soon!), why not get to know them a bit more, well, now?

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