Whether you’re a “Saturday Night Live” fan or you haven’t tuned in since Eddie Murphy left, you couldn’t have escaped hearing all the rumblings about the lack of diversity in this season’s cast. Most upsetting was the fact that out of six new cast members hired in 2013, not one of them was a black woman.
SNL, a sketch comedy TV show that parodies politics, pop culture and current events, often used black male members of its cast to portray black women including Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg. Even those of us who were amused by the skits had to wonder why they wouldn’t simply hire a black female comedian to play these parts.
This week they finally did and now comedian Sasheer Zamata may have the toughest job on television…if she lets them get to her.
Sasheer, the first black female cast member is six years, is in a position that’s not so new for African Americans, male and female. Some call it a no-win. They say no matter how good she is, people will say she only got the job because she’s black and female.
I hope she can remember to draw on the strengths of all of the people before her who have paved the way for her to have this opportunity, and for all of us who have in some way, shape or form, been in her position.
As a black woman who has worked in the male-oriented radio profession for the last 20 years, I can offer a few pointers, some I wish I’d used myself:
1. Write your own story. You know who you are and how good you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you’re there for and what you will get out of the experience.
2. Forgive Kenan. He has become the fall guy for implying there were no qualified black comedians for SNL. It was a dumb comment, but since you two cast mates, along with Jay Pharoah, are the only African Americans, you should work together. I hope he’s big enough to apologize though. (no pun intended)
3. Don’t be afraid. Not only will you be criticized for getting the job “because you’re black,” you’re going to be criticized by black people who will want you to represent us in a certain kind of way. This can take you completely out of your game. You are there because you’re a talented comedian on a show that takes lots of risks. In the words of another great comic, J. Anthony Brown, don’t do “scared comedy.” You won’t be able to please everyone so don’t try. But on the other hand:
4. Keep your dignity. Don’t feel like you have to represent yourself in ways you aren’t comfortable.
5. Learn from the best. Male or female, black or white, identify the smartest people and learn what you can.
6. Don’t hide your glow. Sometimes we’re tempted to down play our talents to make someone else look better.
7. Step up your game. If your bosses tell you you’re doing enough, do more. Continue to get better.
8. Enjoy the process. The real Oprah, not the one played by Kenan, says it isn’t failure if you enjoyed the process. Sometimes we stress ourselves out so much with fear of failing that we don’t even realize all we’ve gained, the people we’ve met and the opportunities that our situation could lead to.
Like much of Black America, I’m rooting for Sasheer Zamata. No one has to sell me on the fact that in order to be chosen out of the 25 women auditioned, she must be extremely talented. I also know that being extremely talented isn’t always enough.
Pressure and politics can end a person’s career before they know what’s hit them. Sasheer Zamata’s victory should be based on knowing she’s doing the best job that she can do and how well she establishes herself as a brand that will stand, with or without SNL.
Once we recognize our own power and value, there’s no stopping us. That’s a lesson I’m glad I learned.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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