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'SNL' to welcome new cast member Sasheer Zamata this month

The search is over!

EW has confirmed that Sasheer Zamata, a New York-based comedian, is joining the cast of Saturday Night Live when the show returns from hiatus January 18. Zamata will be the first black woman to appear regularly on SNL since Maya Rudolph left the series in 2007.

Her casting marks the end of a hunt that began after SNL was criticized for its lack of diversity last fall, when executive producer Lorne Michaels welcomed six new featured players to the show — five of whom were men, and all of whom were white. That criticism, along with widely panned remarks made by longtime cast member Kenan Thompson in a TV Guide interview (“Like in auditions, they just never find [black women] that are ready”), led Michaels to pledge to add a black woman to the cast by January 2014. (Interestingly enough, Zamata was not among the 11 black women who tried out for SNL in a semi-secret audition held in Los Angeles this past December — though she and auditioner Nicole Byer are friends who collaborate on a UCB web series.)
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