Sasheer Zamata, first black female 'Saturday Night Live' cast member since 2007, makes debut

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, N.Y. - Sasheer Zamata made a low-key but notable debut on "Saturday Night Live" as the first black female cast member since 2007.

As usual for a "SNL" newcomer, Zamata kept a low profile on Saturday's broadcast. She participated in sketches in roles including Rihanna and a teenager at a slumber party.

The 27-year-old comedian and improv performer was signed earlier this month in the wake of criticism of "SNL" for its lack of ethnic diversity. Black male cast members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah were among those voicing complaints last fall.

The NBC series has had only four black women cast members in its 39 seasons. The most recent was Maya Rudolph. The biracial actress left in 2007.

The show has also recently hired two black female writers.


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