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Saturday Night Live Adds Sasheer Zamata as New Cast Member After Controversy

Date January 06, 2014

Sasheer Zamata

After months of controversy surrounding the lack of diversity on Saturday Night Live, the long-running sketch comedy show is adding a female African-American comedienne to its ranks, Deadline reports.

Sasheer Zamata will make her debut on the next new show, which airs Jan. 18. Zamata, a University of Virginia graduate (Tina Fey's alma mater) and who trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, will be the first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show five years ago.

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SNL's lack of diversity became a hot-button issue in the fall after it added six Caucasian male comics for the fall. In an interview with TVGuide.com in October, Kenan Thompson blamed the show's diversity issue on a lack of quality black female comedians, rather than on showrunner Lorne Michaels or the series. "It's just a tough part of the business," Thompson said at the time. "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."

After much debate and the show's attempts to mock its lack of diverse ethnicities, Michaels organized a talent search in multiple cities in December to find a female to add to the mix. Zamata was one of 12 who received callbacks and were invited to test on the SNLstage on Dec. 16. She will be a featured player on the show.

Kenan Thompson blames SNL's diversity issue on lack of talented black comediennes

Zamata's credits include appearances on Inside Amy Schumer and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. She is best known for her web series, "Pursuit of Sexiness," which she co-created with fellow comic Nicole Byer (Girl Code). (She also starred in an Apple commercial!)

Check out her appearance on Inside Amy Schumer:

Also watch her appearance on Totally Biased:

Saturday Night Live returns Saturday, Jan. 18 at 11:35/10:35c on NBC. What do you think of Zamata's hiring?

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