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


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."

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prime0469 January 07 2014 at 1:24 PM

whats this world comming too

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rcadams00 January 07 2014 at 2:43 PM

All I care About is she FUNNY. It's Saturday night live make me laugh

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akalj777 January 07 2014 at 5:10 PM

I can remember the original first cast. They started it all and made it amazing!!! and ALL the Wonderful and Amazing talent to follow kept it alive and growing. It's been apart of my life all my life. I will FOREVER Love SNL. :)

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SXMCNE January 07 2014 at 6:04 PM

As long as the person is funny. That's all that matters. Cause if that person isn't funny. Doesn't matter what/who they are.........out they go.

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fkoechling January 07 2014 at 10:42 AM

same old crab, how about not what you look like rather what you can and bring to the Table? Also you have to hire even this Person even if she is a total Moran? (I know she is smart but is is about how many Colored People you have to have in you Company, in order not to get in trouble) Friking America, best example is if you just go to the Drivers Licens Buro or any Goverment outfit, most are Idiots working there, but as you said we have to have colored People is the Law, no matter how stupid they are, we as whilte don't have that privlige AMEN

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Wayne Carter January 07 2014 at 3:12 PM

she looks funny. we will waiy and see.

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Beautiful Terri! January 07 2014 at 4:48 PM

Lorne needs to watch the 'Mad TV' adult late night comedy (no longer made Saadd!!!)

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