SNL took a lot of criticism last fall for not having any black female cast members on the show. It has been 5 years since Maya Rudolph left the show (amazing right? Time flies) and since then, SNL has not hired any black women for the show. That has now changed. Sasheer Zamata joins the cast of SNL starting on January 18. Zamata is a graduate of Syracuse University and has been training at The Groundlings in New York. The Groundlings brought us such SNL stars as Will Ferrill and Phil Hartman. Being a member of The Groundlings is no small measure of comedy talent.
This is obviously a very delicate topic since we are dealing with race and gender, two topics that people are not really allowed to discuss. I’ve been going back and forth about even writing about this topic because unless I’m jumping up and down with excitement, I’m sure I’ll be called a racist (as I already have been on SNL’s subreddit). I’ll say that I don’t doubt that Zamta is talented but I don’t know how anyone can ignore how she was hired. After the firestorm of the fall, SNL producers held a special casting call for specifically for black female performers. Several who had made the first cut were then invited to try out on the main stage at SNL on December 16. Sasheer Zamata was then selected out of that group to join the cast.
Lot’s of eyes are going to be on Sasheer Zamata when she starts on January 18. Whether people want to admit it or not, she is going to have to work to come out from under the cloud surrounding her hiring. People can talk all they want about how this isn’t a big deal, but it’s there. If she has the talent, it will be apparent early on and the furor over her hiring will quickly fade. That is my hope. That she is talented and earns her spot. I hope it doesn’t become immediately obvious that she didn’t deserve to be there. We will find out starting on January 18. For now, since you probably don’t know anything about Sasheer Zamata, here are some clips of her work.
Sasheer Zamata in The Morning After – Once You Go Black
Sasheer Zamata – Stand Up Clip