NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' hires a black woman - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' hires a black woman

Posted: Updated:
This Feb. 11, 2008 photo provided by Cate Hellman Photography shows actress Sasheer Zamata. Zamata, 27, from Indianapolis, will join the cast of "Saturday Night Live," for the Jan. 18 episode. (AP Photo/Cate Hellman Photography) This Feb. 11, 2008 photo provided by Cate Hellman Photography shows actress Sasheer Zamata. Zamata, 27, from Indianapolis, will join the cast of "Saturday Night Live," for the Jan. 18 episode. (AP Photo/Cate Hellman Photography)

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC's comic institution "Saturday Night Live," criticized recently for a lack of diversity, said on Monday that it was adding a black woman to its repertory cast when new episodes start again later this month.

Sasheer Zamata, who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 and has worked with the New York Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, will join for the Jan. 18 episode, for which Drake is the host and the musical guest. Zamata, 27, is from Indianapolis.

The 137 regular cast members who have been part of "Saturday Night Live" since its 1975 debut have been mostly white and have included only four black women. The most recent was biracial Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007. Black men, including Eddie Murphy, Tracy Morgan and Chris Rock, have played more prominent roles.

The lack of a black woman among the 16 regular or featured players became an issue this season when the two black male cast members, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, commented publicly about it and made it known they would no longer dress in drag to portray black women.

"SNL" turned the issue into comedy when "Scandal" star Kerry Washington was a guest host. Washington was portrayed as exasperated when she was asked to impersonate first lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce in the same skit. At the top of the show, an "SNL" producer apologized for the number of black female characters Washington needed to play that night.

Behind the scenes, though, "SNL" founding executive producer Lorne Michaels was busy holding comedy showcases across the country, searching for a black woman to join the cast.

"It's not like it's not a priority for us," Michaels said two months ago. "It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • <div style="font-weight:bolder;font-size:22px;">ENTERTAINMENT <a href ="/Global/category.asp?C=154659" style="font-size:12px;padding-left:80px;">more entertainment &raquo;</a></div>EntertainmentMore>>

  • 'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:04 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:04:17 GMT
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
  • Thomas Berger, 'Little Big Man' author, dead at 89

    Thomas Berger, 'Little Big Man' author, dead at 89

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:31:10 GMT
    Thomas Berger, the witty and eclectic novelist who reimagined the American West in the historical yarn "Little Big Man" and mastered genres ranging from detective stories to domestic farce, has died at age 89. 
    Thomas Berger, the witty and eclectic novelist who reimagined the American West in the historical yarn "Little Big Man" and mastered genres ranging from detective stories to domestic farce, has died at age 89. 
  • 'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:52 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:52:02 GMT
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.