Saturday Night Live adds African American Female cast member and writers

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Sasheer Zamata will be the latest young comedian to join NBC’s Saturday Night Live,  Zamata will make her debut as an SNL featured player on Jan. 18, the late-night program’s first live show of this new year. Zamata is a University of Virginia alumna and trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Saturday Night Live also added Leslie Jones (in blue) and LaKendra Tookes, (in yellow) two comedians who recently auditioned for the program, as writers for the late-night series.

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The two new writers took part in auditions recently held in different parts of the U.S. with the express purpose of finding a female African-American to join the show’s cast of “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.”

While the current cast of Saturday Night Live includes two African-American men – Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah – it has not had an African-American woman in the cast since Maya Rudolph, a comic actress of mixed heritage, was in the cast between 2000 and 2007.

The show has not featured many women of color during its history.  Yvonne Hudson, an African-American woman, was a featured player during the program’s 1980-1981 season.  Danitra Vance, SNL‘s first African-American female full cast member, joined the show for its 1985-1986 season, part of show creator Lorne Michaels’ return to the program after an absence of several years. Ellen Cleghorne joined the cast from 1991-1995.

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