'SNL' Adds Sasheer Zamata as New Black Female Cast Member

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Robyn Von Swank

What, you thought Jonah Hill's third hosting gig was the 'SNL' news of the day? Nope! At long last, after a heated controversy and a nationwide search, the long-running NBC sketch comedy series has found its newest black female cast member in Upright Citizen's Brigade veteran Sasheer Zamata.

Deadline first broke news of the casting, adding that Zamata will debut as a featured player among the cast with the first 2014 installment, with rapper Drake both hosting and performing. The New York-based performer emerges from a nationwide audition that saw dozens of comedic performers in several American cities, most recently narrowed down to 12 invited to try out in New York.

Sasheer Zamata becomes the first black female performer among the 'SNL' cast since Maya Rudolph's exit five years ago, an "unfortunate" situation that drew headlines when current cast member Jay Pharoah spoke out against the lack of diversity among the cast, particularly a lack of black female women, for which co-star Kenan Thompson grew tired of being called on to perform. 'SNL' even tackled the controversy head on in Kerry Washington's cold open, which in turn referenced the 39th season's generic additions to the cast.

No doubt we can expect similar sketch attention called to Zamata's addition, but what say you? Has 'SNL' successfully put the controversy to bed with its newest cast member? What changes to the cast would you want to see in future seasons?

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