If you looked closely during the end of the season finale of Saturday Night Live (May 20), you might’ve notice a few tears from Leslie Jones and a few cast members. Well sadly, it was due to the departures of Vanessa Bayer, SNL vet Bobby Moynihan and unbeknownst to many, Sasheer Zamata.
Confirmed by Entertainment Tonight, the funny woman bid adieu to the series rather quietly. Joining the cast in 2014, Zamata was the first black woman billed as a cast member since the departure of Maya Rudolph in 2007. In total, there’s been four African-American female cast members with the exception of Yvonne Hudson, who was the first black woman to be featured on the show. Zamata’s impressions included Rihanna, former First Lady Michelle Obama and characters like Janelle for her sketch with Chris Rock.
Her last show proved what critics and fans have believed for years. The comedian was vastly underused and barley given any time to share her chops. While this can be contributed to the heavy use of Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s impressions of the Trump administration, it’s still a bummer to not go out with a bang.
At the time of her hiring, Zamata shared with The Associated Press the amount of pressure she was on, considering the demand for a more diverse cast. “It was weird to have a very public audition in that way. No one else gets that. There’s no other kind of mass call for cast members,” she said. “I was in the press for just auditioning. I’m getting all these texts and e-mails that are like, ‘Good luck!’—which is so nice and wonderful that I got so much support, but also so stressful. It’s historically a secret, and now it’s a very public thing. It was a very weird way to go through that.”
Nonetheless, cast mates like Leslie Strong and Michael Che shared tributes to Zamata on social media.
While she’s remained silent about her departure, Zamata gave it a mention on her Instagram Sunday (May 21).
The comedian recently dropped her stand up special “Pizza Mind” on streaming sites Seeso and Amazon Prime.