TV

New 'SNL' star Sasheer Zamata is a familiar face of comedy

Jan. 18, 2014 at 5:13 AM ET

Image: Sasheer Zamata
AP

Live from New York, it’s Sasheer Zamata!

“Saturday Night Live’s” first black female cast member in six years will make her debut from Studio 8H on Saturday’s episode, but the comedian, who moved to the Big Apple in 2009 after graduating with a drama degree from the University of Virginia, has spent years honing her ability to make people laugh. Zamata has gained attention for her online comedy videos, and her work has been mentioned in The New York Times.

Here’s what you should know about Zamata before she goes live from Rockefeller Center for the first time.

Not an entirely unfamiliar face
If she looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen her on your small screen quite a few times before. According to Zamata’s bio, she’s appeared in commercials for Target, Verizon Wireless and Apple. But that’s not all: She’s also featured in sketches on FX’s “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” and Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” and co-starred on Cooking Channel’s 2012 special “Back in Time for Thanksgiving.” 

Fey 2.0?
“She’s very much like Tina (Fey),” UVA drama professor Richard Warner, who taught both the “SNL” veteran and newbie Zamata, told The New York Daily News. “She’s a social critic, and she’s a feminist.”

Funny roots
Zamata is a veteran of the comedy group Upright Citizens Brigade, which also counts former “SNL” cast members Fred Armisen, Will Ferrell, Rachel Dratch and Fey, not to mention stars including Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis and Aubrey Plaza, among its alumni. Zamata has been a member of the troupe since 2009.

She's 'awesome'
Lena Dunham and Amy Poehler both cosign. Poehler, who co-founded UCB, recently said of Zamata, "She was part of our diversity program many years ago, and she's an awesome performer."

Meanwhile, “Girls” creator and star Dunham shared one of Zamata's YouTube videos that she particularly enjoyed with her Twitter followers.

A friend in the biz
She’s friends with MTV’S “Girl Code” star Nicole Byer, who’s no stranger to “SNL” herself, as she’s the show’s auditioner.

Three times the talent
Zamata is a triple threat. She writes, performs and directs comedy videos for her and pal Byer’s web series, “Pursuit of Sexiness.” Their series follows the two women as they look for “good men, easy money and free meals.”

Now that you’re more familiar with her work, tune into "Saturday Night Live" this Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on NBC to watch her do what she does best.

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