Jana B., Here….
Big news from Saturday Night Live. Sasheer Zamata is the newest regular cast member to be signed to the NBC comedy staple. There are six new comedians being added this year. Instead of focusing on Zamata’s laughable qualities, the focus is on her sex and race. There has been massive criticism that the new batch of SNL cast members lacks not only minorities, but specifically the inclusion of Zamata, who is African American. Lorne Michaels has been looking into black female comedians for some time now. Kerry Washington’s guest hosting episode saw her run ragged running from skit to skit playing a number of roles from Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce. Of the six new comedians coming on board this season all are white but Noel Wells who is Hispanic-Tunisian. There are only 2 African-Americans already anchored in their positions on the late night sketch show.
The need for more female talent comes on the back of current featured player Nasim Pedrad’s signing on to co-star in a Michaels’ produced sit-com set to air on Fox. The scheduling should not produce a conflict for Pedrad to continue with her SNL stint, but that’s still yet to see if it remains true. With Pedrad’s possible exit and Seth Myers’ probable departure the need for more talent was already an issue. With a background including the University of Virginia and The Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv comedy group, the switch to SNL is a logical stepping stone.
How much of an issue is diversity on SNL? Why is the emphasis of this decision focusing on her race? Are we really that far removed from progress that this warrants a headline to itself? Have the casting decisions of late been too narrow-minded or have the actors chosen merely not been African American and not intentional? No matter what your views on the last rhetorical questions are Zamata should provide the laughs when she makes her debut on January 18.