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‘SNL’ hires Sasheer Zamata, first black female cast member in 6 years

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After “Saturday Night Live” producers were criticized for lacking diversity on the late night comedy show, it was announced on Jan. 9, 2014 that Sasheer Zamata will join the cast. According to Wave, Zamata will be the first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show six years ago.

Zamata will make her debut on “SNL” beginning Jan. 18 and will be only the fifth black woman to become a cast member on the show since it began almost 40 years ago, reports the Detroit Free Press.

According to the Free Press, she is a Brooklyn comedian and performs with the comedy troupe, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

The Free Press reports that the controversy regarding diversity of cast members began after Kenan Thompson, who has been forced to play various black women over the past few years, stated that casting directors were unable to find black females who were “talented enough for the show.”

He added that he and Jay Pharoah, the only other black cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” would no longer play female characters.

Also this week, “SNL” announced two black female writers have been hired for the show and were discovered when auditions to diversify the the cast were conducted.

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