Her name is Sasheer Zamata and she is Saturday Night Live‘s first black female comedian in six years. Zamata, 27 and a native of Indianapolis, was hired during SNL‘s winter hiatus and made her debut when the show returned with Drake as host in 2014.
The former New York Upright Citizens Brigade member made cameos in several sketches on her debut SNL episode. She impersonated everyone from Rihanna to a Santigold-like femcee in the “Resolution Revolution” digital short.
SNL was heavily scrutinized for its lack of black female ensemble members. The last black female SNL cast member was Maya Rudolph, who left in 2007. In 2013, cast member Jay Pharoah expressed his disappointment with the lack of diversity among SNL female cast members, with him and Kenan Thompson often having to cross dress to play black female characters on the show. During her recent stint, Kerry Washington poked fun of the SNL‘s diversity issue in the show’s cold open, playing everyone from Michelle Obama to Oprah. The diversity backlash led the show to hold secret auditions for black female comedians.
SNL seems to have picked the right person with Zamata. At the end of her successful SNL debut, Drake gave Zamata a giant bear hug. It was a big night for both of them, but most of all for SNL.