Sasheer Zamata (Col ’08) made her debut as a Saturday Night Live cast member on January 18. Zamata is the first black woman to perform regularly on SNL since 2007. Since its debut in 1975, the show has had only four black women in its regular ensemble. The series has faced widespread criticism that the program’s cast lacked minority faces; Zamata’s hiring ended a midseason talent search that focused exclusively on minority women. “As a result, she faced unusual levels of scrutiny” in her first SNL appearance, the New Yorker wrote in its “Culture Desk” column, but “her debut went without a hitch.”
Zamata was a drama major at UVA, where she helped revive the Paul Robeson Players, an African-American theater ensemble that had been defunct for a decade. After graduating, she moved to New York and performed comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, all the while creating her own comedy videos (her Beyoncé impression is masterful).