In less than two weeks, Saturday Night Live will have a black female cast member for the first time since 2007. Deadline Hollywood reports that Sasheer Zamata, an alumna of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, will make her debut on the late-night sketch series on Jan. 18.
Zamata, who graduated from the University of Virginia and started taking classes at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2009, will become one of the five black women to star on the show in its history. The show hasn’t had a black female cast member since 2007 when Maya Rudolph left the show.
The decades-old comedy series faced criticism in late 2013 for its lack of diversity, especially as it related to African American women. In an October interview with TV Guide, cast member Kenan Thompson suggested that black female comedians didn’t have what it takes to join the SNL crew. “”It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
Show producer Lorne Michaels told the Associated Press later that month that a black woman would be cast, and the show held auditions solely for black women in December.
Zamata’s debut episode will have rapper Drake as musical guest and host.
Here is Zamata in a 2012 sketch reflecting on an encounter with a flasher: