SNL Hires First Black Female Cast Member In Seven Years

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Following a recent push for more diversity among its cast, "Saturday Night Live" has hired its first black female performer in nearly seven years.  NBC announced that Sasheer Zamata, 27, will join the show as a "featured player" beginning January 18th.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, the writer, actress, comedian, and Upright Citizens Brigade alum moved to New York in 2009 after graduating from the University of Virginia.  Her work has appeared on the comedy websites and College She also stars in her own web series, "The Pursuit of Sexiness."

Zamata has also appeared in sketches on "Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell" on FX, and "Inside Amy Schumer" on Comedy Central. She's performed standup at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, the Great American Comedy Festival, the Letterman Showcase in the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, and Comedy Central's Comics to Watch Showcase.

Producers of "SNL" mounted the search after two of the show's black male performers publicly commented on the lack of diversity. Cast members, Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, also said they would no longer dress in drag to portray black women. "Saturday Night Live" has featured only four black female cast members since premiering in 1975.

The show's writers poked fun at the controversy during a recent episode hosted by "Scandal" star Kerry Washington.

Videos of Zamata's work are available on her website.  Check out some of our favorites below:

With the Associated Press.