The show has been roundly criticized for its lack of diversity over the past few months. There had been reports that the show was secretly trying out black female comedians in New York and Los Angeles in December 2013 to help fill the void. Zamata beat out 11 other comedians who received callbacks for a place on the show.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s Well Educated in Comedy
She’s a graduate of the University of Virginia as well as being an alumna of the much feted Uptight Citizens Brigade. According to her profile at UCB, she began at the comedy factory in 2009. In a TimeOut piece it says she lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Prior to making it professionally in comedy she worked at a clothing store called Only Hearts in lower Manhattan.
2. Her First Show is in Less Than 2 Weeks
She’ll make her debut on the show on January 18. The episode will be hosted by Drake who will also act as the show’s musical guest.
3. She’s the First Black Female Cast Member in 4 Years
She becomes the show’s first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2009.
When Kerry Washington hosted the show earlier this season, the lack of diversity was made part of the joke as the Scandal star was made to play Michelle Obama, Oprah and Beyonce.
4. She’s Known For Her ‘Beyonce Routine’
— Sasheer (@thesheertruth) May 29, 2013
On her Facebook page she describes herself as “Actress. Writer. Comedian. Beyonce.” Her most high-profile gigs so far have been on the show Inside Amy Schumer and on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Her viral videos have made it on to College Humor and Jezebel, Zamata was also in commercials for Target, Verizon Wireless and NY Lotto.
Previously she described her style as trying to “channel Pam Grier,” and that her hairstyle is influenced by Lucille Ball.
5. Her Potential Was Recognized by Cosmo
She was named by Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the 13 funniest women to watch in 2014. At the time of the Cosmo piece, the magazine named her as “one of the top contenders to join SNL.” Not to mention getting a tweet from Lena Durham:
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 17, 2013
The above video, posted in 2012, was the subject of a piece on Think Progress, regarding the use of sexual assault based humor in comedy.