In wake of the recent controversy surrounding a lack of diversity among its cast, Saturday Night Live has added a black, female cast member, Sasheer Zamata.
Late in 2013, SNL was dealing with criticism over the lack of black and female representation within the cast when Kenan Thompson gave an interview to TV Guide in which he posited that the lack of a black, female cast member might be more indicative of the fact that the women they had auditioned weren't ready to take that step, rather than a systemic problem among the show's brass, specifically Lorne Michaels.
Then, Scandal star Kerry Washington took a turn as host and participated in a sketch that directly addressed the diversity controversy and seemed, to some, to be trivializing the issue.
Now, the addition of Zamata marks the end of a mid-season search for the show's newest black, female cast member. Auditions began as Michaels and company searched for a black, female cast member just months after replacing its four departing players with four new, white faces.
Zamata will make her debut on the venerable NBC late-night sketch comedy series on its next live show slated for January 18 with Drake as host and musical guest. Zamata, who trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, becomes the first black female Saturday Night Live cast member in five years since the departure of Maya Rudolph. The lack of female black performers on the show stirred a debate last fall while SNL boss Lorne Michaels had been quietly conducting a talent search.
Zamata has previously appeared on shows like Inside Amy Schumer and Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. She's 27 and hails from Virginia. [Deadline]