Saturday Night Live has finally cast its first female black cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show five years ago. Her name is Sasheer Zamata. We told you back in October that she was totally ready for Saturday Night Live, and now that she’s been officially cast, we want to share with you all the reasons why she’s ready to be a featured cast member. (Hint: one of those reasons are her killer Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Michelle Obama impressions.)
1) She’s Got The Impressions
One of the biggest reasons people have been clamoring for a black female comedienne on Saturday Night Live is that there are so many black women in the public eye. When Kerry Washington hosted in November, the show’s first sketch addressed how ludicrous it was that they didn’t have a female cast member who could play Beyoncé, Michelle Obama or Oprah.
Sasheer Zamata can more than live up to the challenge of impersonating the First Lady of the United States or the First Lady of Music. If you check out her impression Queen Bey above if you don’t believe us.
2) She’s Got The Sketch & Improv Chops
Zamata not only has drama degree from the University of Virginia, but she’s an alum of the Upright Citizens Brigade (aka Amy Poehler’s home turf) theater in New York. Now, lots of performers might do a class or two at the UCB and claim they’re part of the community, but Zamata is one of the current comedic pillars of the UCB.
She’s a member of the house Harold team, Bucky, and has been both a writer and a performer for a Maude sketch team. Not to mention, she co-hosts the show School Night and performs regularly with celebrated indie improv team, Doppelganger. Now, one of those credits would be a big deal, but Zamata’s done it all. So it’s no wonder that she was interviewed by NBC News in 2012 as a possible “comedy star of the future” from the UCB (skip to 5:15 if you somehow don’t want to watch Amy Poehler talk about comedy).
3) Oh, And She’s Also A Talented Stand Up Comic
In addition to being a great sketch and improv comedienne, Zamata is also one of NYC’s fastest rising stand up comedy stars. She’s performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, on Comedy Central’s Comics to Watch Showcase and she’s opened for John Mulaney.
She’s also adapted one of her stand up into a short film that’s been featured on Jezebel and it’s been endorsed by Lena Dunham.
4) She’s Worked With The Saturday Night Live Family Before
Sure, Zamata has crossed paths with various Saturday Night Live writers and performers while doing stand up or performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, but she’s also been featured on Above Average video content.
Above Average is Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels’s web video production company. Current Saturday Night Live cast members frequently feature in the videos alongside New York based comics…like Zamata.
Zamata twerked in a recent sketch called “Get Back To Twerk” that co-starred current Saturday Night Live cast member John Milhiser. She also recently appeared in an episode of the web series, “The Morning After.” The actress who had appeared in the episode before hers? Current Weekend Update co-anchor Cecily Strong.
5) She’s A Genuinely Awesome Person
When the news hit last night that she had been cast, the immediate reaction from New York comics online was absolute joy and enthusiasm. Now, New York comics can be stereotyped as a vain, bitter, jealous, competitive bunch, but there was absolutely no envy coming from anyone. In fact, the general consensus wasn’t just that Zamata totally deserved to get cast on Saturday Night Live, but that it was a long time coming. I think “Well, duh,” showed up on a lot of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds.
More than that, Zamata is one of the kindest, smartest, hard-working and all together poised people you’ll ever meet in comedy or in life. Whomever Lorne Michaels cast to be the first black female on Saturday Night Live in five years was going to be walking into a media firestorm, and Zamata is probably one of the few people in the world who can stand up to that kind of scrutiny.
But enough about what a nice, generous, flawfree person she is! She’s freaking funny! She’ll be an amazing addition to the Saturday Night Live cast and everyone who hasn’t seen her perform yet is going to be in for a massive treat when she joins the cast officially on January 18.
Saturday Night Live returns on January 18 with host & musical guest Drake.
[Photo Credit: Above Average Productions]