When I first heard that Saturday Night Live was adding Sasheer Zamata, the show’s first Black actress in five years, I was happy in a “finally another black person added to the show” kind of way. But shortly thereafter, I started talking to others who frequently watch the show, who were more or less “blah” about the whole thing. I couldn’t help but think, that this might have been an affirmative action hire.
That’s not to take anything away from Zamata, I’m pretty sure she’s quite funny, at least I hope that she is, but the timing in her addition is a little suspect. Just last fall a debate about the lack of female black performers was brought up (mainly by Keenan Thompson) while SNL boss Lorne Michaels had been quietly conducting a talent search. And now, less than three months later, a female black performer is added.
I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say that Zmata’s addition was/is an attempt to shut up the “race card pullers” or to squash any controversy that could have risen. While both are understandable, the latter was more or less a preemptive strike about something that most people don’t care about.
Since SNL hasn’t been funny in years, the chance of a fire storm over the show’s lack of diversity was slim to none, except for those that just wanted something to complain about. Besides, and this isn’t scientific research or anything, but most black people that I know, don’t even watch SNL, so again the knee-jerk reaction to add a woman of color was just that, a knee-jerk reaction.
But by doing this, SNL’s attempt at diversity may backfire. By trying to appease those that want to see more black performers on the show, SNL may have alienated other nationalities of color, with its single minded vision of adding a black woman performer. While it’s true you can’t please everyone, I think SNL saw the potential for controversy and added the first black actress, it could find, without giving much thought to being fully diverse.
What do you think? Do you think SNL is sincere in its attempts to be more diverse? Or do you think they added Sasheer Zamata to save face?
Talk to me, I’ll talk back.