LOS ANGELES Jan 6 "Saturday Night Live" has
hired comedian Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member for the
late-night comedy sketch show, a spokeswoman for network NBC
said on Monday, months after the program was criticized for a
lack of diversity among its female cast.
Zamata, who stars in her own internet comedy series "Pursuit
of Sexiness," will be the first African-American female cast
member since Maya Rudolph left "Saturday Night Live" in 2007.
"SNL" came under criticism in October for its lack of female
diversity after cast member Kenan Thompson said he would no
longer play black women such as Whoopi Goldberg and Maya
The show later spoofed that criticism with a sketch in which
guest host Kerry Washington played several African-American
figures, including first lady Michelle Obama, whose character
has been left out of much of the show's political satire because
Zamata, who has performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade
improv comedy troupe, will make her debut on Jan. 18.
"Saturday Night Live," which has launched the Hollywood
careers of Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, Tina Fey and others, added
six new members to its cast in September before the beginning of
its current 39th season.
NBC is owned by Comcast Corp.