Comedian is first black female cast member on show since Maya Rudolph
"Saturday Night Live" has finally solved its lack-of-black-female-cast-member issue, hiring Upright Citizens Brigade alum Sasheer Zamata as a featured player effective once the sketch comedy show returns later this month.
Zamata, a graduate of the University of Virginia, is slated to make her series debut Jan. 18 during the episode that features Drake as both host and musical guest, Deadline reports. She becomes the first black female on the show as a regular player since Maya Rudolph's departure five years ago.
"SNL" has been under fire for its lack of such a cast member during for much of the past few months especially, after adding a slew of new featured players -- none of whom are black, while only one -- Noel Wells -- is female. The show lampooned this during its Nov. 2 episode with Kerry Washington, forcing the actress to portray Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce in the same sketch.
The show may have at least found its new portrayer of the latter character. In videos online, Zamata is shown playing Beyonce not long after the birth of the singer's first child in 2011. In one video, Beyonce is shown attempting to sing baby Blue Ivy a lullaby in the form of "Love on Top," which increases in intensity as it goes on, while a framed photo of Jay Z's mugshot looks on in the background.
Another video -- this one a demo reel of many of her characters -- features a formidable Rihanna decrying media questions about her personal life, a short of Nicki Minaj reading "Green Eggs and Ham" and a gloriously spot-on Eartha Kitt.
Other celebrity impersonations Zamata has done include Michelle Obama, Tyra Banks and a mashup character called Angela Bassett Hound.
"SNL" returns Jan. 18 with Drake, following with another new episode the following weekend (Jan. 26). Jonah Hill will host that episode, with Bastille as the musical guest.