To say that it’s about time would be a gross understatement: Saturday Night Live has finally added a black female comedian to its cast, Sasheer Zamata, nearly seven years after Maya Rudolph departed the show. This comes after months of criticism of the long-standing sketch comedy show’s bleak history of hiring minority women, which was fueled by the addition of six white, and—save for one—male cast members at the beginning of the season.
Though this has been a problem since the program’s inception, the collective furor over the new cast announcement—and creator Lorne Michaels’ initial, evasive response—proved more effective than any previous campaigns to diversity the show. Back in December, SNL auditioned around 25 actresses of color, and one, Zamata, will make her debut when it returns from holiday hiatus on Jan. 18.
A quick primer on the New York-based actress: You may recognize her for her appearances in other comedians’ work, including Inside Amy Schumer and College Humor’s funny viral hit “HBO Should Show Dongs,” but she’s also made a name for herself performing with the Upright Citizens Brigade and her Web series, Pursuit of Sexiness. Here’s more from the talented performer:
“Sasheer Meets Her Flasher”
For Chioke Nassor’s Storytime series, Zamata recalled a time when she was flashed and her embarrassment over her nonchalant response. In a hilarious inversion of the narrative, Zamata, playing herself and her harasser, attempts to replay the situation from his point of view—and calls out the blatant misogyny women face every day.
“Sheer Can’t Have it All”
In the fourth episode of Pursuit of Sexiness, Sheer (Zamata) has awkward encounters with the new guy she’s dating.
Zamata demonstrates some serious physical comedy chops in this UCB sketch, in which she plays a woman practicing her breakup speech with a hand-held mirror.