Don’t Tell Saturday Night Live, But They Accidentally Cast A Black Woman

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Sasheer Zamata new SNL cast member headshot 2013My joking title aside, after literal years of media scrutiny, public appeals, questionable uses of brown-face, and half-hearted excuses, Saturday Night Live has finally, finally added a black woman to their cast. FINALLY.

Her name is Sasheer Zamata, and like many SNL cast members, her background is in improvisation, with her training taking place at Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, where she appears on the house Harold team ‘Bucky', which performs most Tuesday nights at the Chelsea location at either 7:30 or 9:15. She'll be making her debut on the January 18th show (holy eff! that's soon!) which features Drake as both the musical guest and host.

I've seen Sasheer perform quite a bit, from improv to sketch to stand-up (oh right, did I mention she does everything?), and in addition to being the first black female to join the cast since 2007, when Maya Rudolph left the show…she's also just a regular comedian joining the show, you guys. For all the expectations and pressures and scrutiny she's about to come under, Sasheer is just like any other cast member. And don't get me wrong, not in a bad way! In a ‘let's not make this a thing' way.

Just like everybody else on the show, Sasheer has worked her ass off to get there, and completely deserves the opportunity she's been given, no matter what your personal opinions on her end up being, from your living room. And she doesn't deserve it because she's an African-American woman, a demographic the show was desperately lacking — she deserves it because she got effing cast. That's how she got here, the same as everyone else. I'm just hoping we remember that and don't immediately jump down her throat if she doesn't have an impression of every black woman who has ever lived just quivering in the chamber.

I have no idea how she'll come out of the gate — nobody does — but I had a feeling as soon as I heard she was on the shortlist after the secret showcases that she'd be the one to make it. She's such a mature, intelligent, creative, self-assured performer, that it was less a question of if than when. Congratulations to Sasheer — you're gonna kill it out there.

(Photo: Catherine Hellman)