SNL adds first black female member in seven years


Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images

Remember when Kerry Washington hosted Saturday Night Live, and had to rush between costume changes to play Oprah, Beyoncé and Michelle Obama in the same sketch?

SNL has just announced Sasheer Zamata as their newest cast member, who’ll start on the season premiere on January 18th. She is the first black female cast member since 2007 and only the fifth since the show’s launch in 1975.

SNL received a lot of backlash three months ago when it announced its six new cast members, sans black women. The show’s creator and producer, Lorne Michaels held secret auditions last month and screen-tested 12 comedians. Not unlike that time Tom Cruise was looking for a new girlfriend.

In the end he chose Zamata, 27, who has a strong following in the New York comedy scene. Like former SNL writer, Tina Fey, she is a graduate of the University of Virginia and a performer of the Upright Citizens Brigade. An avid feminist, she also writes her own sketches, like the time a guy flashed her in the street.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I don’t think she’s that funny…? She’s clever, but she’s no Wanda Sykes. I wasn’t laughing out loud when I watched her stand up and sketches. But SNL is rarely funny anymore.

Hopefully the material will improve with the show’s two new writers, who are also black females: LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones were both found in the Los Angeles and New York auditions. Tookes is a reporter and actress and Jones is a stand-up comic. There’s a possibility they could transition into cast members like Fey and Mike O’Brien have in the past.

Zamata, Jones and Tookes will all start on January 18th, with host and musical guest, Drake.

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