Saturday Night Live announced the midseason casting of Sasheer Zamata, who will be the first black woman on the show since Maya Rudolph departed six years ago. Per The New York Times:
She has performed stand-up comedy in New York and around the country and has also appeared in online videos for sites like College Humor. She has appeared in sketches on the Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” on FX. (Ed note: Why was “Totally Biased” canceled?)
Obviously, this is fantastic news–Zamata is well-deserving and hilarious, and SNL desperately needs to work on its race problem. But isn’t this whole snafu sort of embarrassing for humanity?
I’m talking about the resistance to hiring a black female cast member and the excuses the show made. When SNL started receiving flack for its lack of diversity, the show initially pushed back. According to CNN, Kenan Thompson “told TV Guide the show had difficulty finding qualified black female comedians to hire. He insisted that the talent pool was limited because so many of the women were not seasoned enough for the job.” I find it somewhat unlikely that in the whole world, there were no black women who were capable of telling jokes, but hey, what do I know?
Lorne Michaels responded by on the show in a sketch featuring host Kerry Washington. Washington changed into Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Oprah costumes while this voiceover played:
“The producers at Saturday Night Live would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight. We make these requests both because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent – and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman on the cast. As for the latter reason, we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.”
Instead of sounding self aware, it came of as an “screw you, I do what I want” statement from Michaels. I suppose none of this matters now SNL managed to hire one black woman and racism is now dead.
Zamata’s first show will air on January 18th. Drake‘s hosting, and I have a bad feeling that we’re in for some masturbatory self congratulation on Michaels’ part. It’s worth noting that in SNL‘s 38-year-history, the cast has only included four women of color, total. So while the addition of Zamata is fantastic because she’s an excellent comedian, the show still has a long way to go before it’s even remotely diverse.