Keenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah can hang up their dresses. After being shamed into it, “SNL” has finally hired a black female cast member.
She comes from the sketch comedy outfit Uptight Citizens Brigade and her name is Sasheer Zamata. Her first appearance will be the Jan. 18 show hosted by Drake. It’s also the first new episode of 2014.
Zamata appears regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York as part of the weekly variety show “School Night.” She is also on two improv teams that perform at the theater.
She will be the first black female in the cast since Maya Rudolph left as a regular in 2007.
“SNL” had been under pressure to cast a black female to replace Rudolph, but seemiongly took it good old time. However, the situation became urgent when Thompson told TV Guide that he wouldn’t dress in drag to play black female characters anymore.
To its credit, you could say, “Saturday Night Live” parodied itself in a November with an especially funny episode hosted by “Scandal” star Kerry Washington. But even then, as the LA Times reports, executive producer Lorne Michaels was beginning the process of finding someone. He told the Associated Press at the time that finding a black female cast member was a priority.
If you’re not familiar with Sasheer comedic skills, check her out playing Beyonce not long after the birth of the singer’s first child in 2011. As Beyonce, she is shown attempting to sing baby Blue Ivy a lullaby in the form of “Love on Top,” which gets more and more intense as she performs it. We’ll let you decide if it’s a hit or a miss:
Here’s her demo reel that features an array of parodies including Michelle Obama doing a reading; Rihanna decrying media questions about her personal life; a short of Nicki Minaj reading “Green Eggs and Ham” and an impressive Eartha Kitt impression: