After the controversy over no African-American female cast member since 2007, "Saturday Night Live" casting reps had some explaining to do. Auditions were held. Sasheer Zamata was hired mid-season. And rapper Drake (a newbie host to SNL) was along to greet her on the show during her first night on Sat., Jan. 18.
Drake played the roles of baseball player Alex Rodriguez, a Lil' Wayne version of Steve Urkel on the '90s sitcom "Family Matters," Jay Z on the '80s sitcom "Mr. Wizard's World," Katt Williams on "Nancy Grace," and -- with noticeably nice legs in short shorts -- Indiana Jones.
Zamata's roles were a grinding Rihanna as Blossom in the '90s sitcom "Blossom" and Sydney in the '90s made-up sitcom "That's So 2 Chainz."
Both of them danced around to a "Resolution Revolution" music video that basically gave the middle finger to New Year's resolutions, a slumber party with Drake playing the nerdy father and Zamata as one of the teenage girls, and a detention skit with a poetry teacher.
In addition to his comedic Mazel Tov Aubrey performance, Drake also performed his own songs: "Started from the Bottom," "Trophies," "From Time" and "Hold On, We're Going Home." Singer Jhene Aiko joined him for the latter song.
In a WPUR op/ed piece by Robin Young from Boston radio station 90.9, criticism of Zamata wasn't personal to her upcoming performance, only that Jet Magazine editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller felt that SNL was pacifying viewers by hiring Zamata.
Would she be considered a forced hire? Was she the most qualified of the African-American female applicants? Would she be as good or better than other cast members, as well as previous hires?
But on Saturday night questions should've been answered. Zamata approached her roles with the same finesse that actress Kerry Washington did on Sat., Nov. 2. She was funny. Her roles were diverse. She didn't try too hard. And she seemed to be capable of comedic range from sexy comedy to goofball comedy. The upcoming SNL episodes will prove whether Zamata will continue with her success, but as of tonight, she did well.
Zamata is no newbie to comedy skits. She was also featured in W. Kamau Bell's "Totally Biased," 2010's "Acid Tests," 2012's "Fodder" and last year's "Inside Amy Schumer."
And at the end of the show, Drake made a point to welcome her to the show and give her a big hug.
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