SNL's New Cast Member Is...

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Maybe it's because Kenan Thompson caused quite a stir when he claimed there was an inadequate pool of black female comedians from which to cast talent. Or, maybe Lorne Michaels genuinely has been looking for a woman to fit the bill since Maya Rudolph's 2007 departure from the Saturday Night Live cast. Regardless of the reason, Michaels has confirmed he's aiming to cast a black female to begin in January 2014.

Though a tweet from Bresha Webb and a subsequent Instagram from Simone Shepherd gave away Michael's audition at The Groundlings in L.A., the rumored character showcase in New York has been mentioned only in the vaguest of terms. Until now, we weren't even sure if a full-on showcase existed, or if the potentials from L.A. simply traveled to New York for screen tests. Earlier this morning, a source from the People's Improv Theatre (PIT) confirmed that Michaels held a character showcase at the PIT just a couple of weeks ago. The source claims the women auditioning are "NY live-comedy powerhouses," and are now rumored to be "on the short list" for casting. What's interesting about this showcase in particular is that it was seemingly unplanned: The source's own show was canceled at the last minute to accommodate the showcase. And, Michaels himself only appeared about half way through the two-hour event. This information gives clarification to Michael's statement to The New York Times: "All told we’ve seen about 25 people. A lot of the people we saw are really good. Hopefully we’ll come out of the process well.”

Both Michaels and Thompson have used the word "ready" to describe the ideal candidate. Michaels told The New York Times, “We’re all about talent. It doesn’t help if somebody’s not ready — and ‘ready’ is one of the charged words. But you want to be sure you give people the best possible shot.” Some would say they've come to use the word as a crutch, or dare we say excuse, in the show's nearly all-white casting. Ahead, the three comedians who Michaels gave "the best possible shot," and who may be joining you on Saturday nights come January.

Sasheer Zamata
Zamata's got a serious reputation in the New York comedy scene. As a weekly host of the variety show "School Night" at Upright Citizens Brigade, she also has her own web series, Pursuit of Sexiness. According to her bio, she also loves thrift shopping and eating. In other words, she's our soul mate.
Natasha Rothwell
Rothwell's has been on NBC's radar for quite some time: She recently won the company's Diversity Scholarship. She's a current cast member of UCB team The Curfew. You can check out her podcast, Naked Radio, or see her as part of The Striking Viking Story Pirates. We're especially partial to her Flight Attendant skit.
Tanisha Long
Though Long hails from Philly, she set up shop in NYC in 2006. Her improv study at the PIT, UCB, and Michael Howard Studio landed her a spot on MTV's Girl Code, along with appearances on Comedy Central, Teen Nick, VH1, and College Humor.

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