“SNL” names Sasheer Zamata as new cast member

The New York comic will make her debut Jan. 18

Topics: sasheer zamata, SNL, Saturday Night Live, diversity in comedy, Race, Lorne Michaels,

After weeks of secret auditions looking for a new female black cast member, “Saturday Night Live” has picked New York comedian Sasheer Zamata to join its cast, reports Deadline.

Like several members of the current “SNL” cast, Zamata trained in improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade, where she currently performs. Zamata also performs stand-up around the city, and has appeared in sketches in the late FX series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” and Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer.”

The comic will become the show’s first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left in 2007, becoming a rare midseason hire after “SNL” came under fire for its lack of racial diversity at the start of its 39th season. Zamata will make her debut on Jan. 18th’s episode with host and musical guest Drake.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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