Miss Zamata, you’re wanted on set at 30 Rockefeller.
For those unfamiliar with her career thus far, the University of Virginia graduate is a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where she’s been performing since 2009. Her online videos for Jest and College Humor have been featured on the Today Show and Jezebel, and she’s also appeared in sketches for shows on FX and Comedy Central. She writes and acts in the webseries ‘Fodder’ and ‘Back in Time for Thanksgiving’ for The Cooking Channel. As a comic, she’s performed at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, The Great American Comedy Festival, and opened for rising star John Mulaney.
Oh yeah, and she’s also black.
Zamata’s casting comes at a time of controversy for the long-running sketch program, after 2013’s group of six new performers were all white, except for Noel Wells, who is of Hispanic-Tunisian background. Civil rights groups and vocal critics felt the fall casting was a missed opportunity to add an African American woman to the mix. It’s been five years since Maya Rudolph departed the show, and as funny as Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah are in drag, it’s probably time to get a lady to play Oprah once again.
As of Jan. 18, Zamata will be joining the cast of NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ at the midpoint of its 39th season. Drake is the host and musical guest, so expect some more diversity themed self-lampooning like Kerry Washington’s recent guest spot. This is a huge career milestone for any budding comic actor.
Zamata has earned her place by developing her career in the New York comedy scene for years, and beating out a wide field of talented competition to land the ‘SNL’ gig.
One can hope -- that another 39 seasons from now -- hiring an African American comedienne will be commonplace rather than headlines.