SNL's New Cast Member: Sasheer Zamata

Following criticism earlier this season for its lack of a black female cast member (and 39 years of previous criticism intermittently interrupted by occasional bursts of sorta diversity), Saturday Night Live has hired Sasheer Zamata, who is the show's first black female cast member in five years.
Zamata will make her debut on the venerable NBC late-night sketch comedy series on its next live show slated for January 18 with Drake as host and musical guest. Zamata, who trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, becomes the first black female Saturday Night Live cast member in five years since the departure of Maya Rudolph. ...She will now be a featured player on the show that has launched the careers of a slew of young comedians.
Good luck, Sasheer! I am looking forward to your debut!

You know, it's really too fucking bad that the show didn't have the foresight to hire Zamata before there was a whole huge fucking thing about the dearth of black female cast members that started with another cast member yammering about the alleged unreadiness of black female comics. It's tough enough to step onto that stage, and into a work environment which has historically been deeply hostile to women (especially women of color), without the added pressure of disproving a widely-discussed theory about the quality of black female comics.

The thing about a lack of meaningful diversity is that not only does privilege deny the equal chance to succeed; it denies the equal chance to fail, too.

There are countless white male comics who have come and gone at SNL without any attached symbolism. Zamata's performance is burdened with narrative and the responsibility of representation, and she will be aggressively scrutinized for whether she "deserves" her spot, in a way other cast members aren't.

She knows all of this going in, and she's doing it anyway. I'll be rooting for her, but she's already a champ.

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