"Saturday Night Live" has picked a New York-based stand-up comedienne as its first black female cast member since 2007, as it aims to put a flap over its lack of racial and gender diversity behind it.

Sasheer Zamata will make her debut appearance on the popular weekend comedy sketch show on January 18, said NBC television in a statement.

She'll be a featured player -- one of the younger second-tier cast members who typically appear less often than the repertory actors who get top billing on the show.

Executive producer Lorne Michaels had auditioned several candidates, amid a furor over the lingering absence of African-American women on "SNL" after the show this season added six new cast members, all of them white.

Maya Rudolph was the last of only four women of color ever to be regulars on "SNL" since it first went on the air in October 1975.

A University of Virgina drama graduate, Zamata relocated to New York in 2009 and trained at the city's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which was co-founded by "SNL" alum Amy Poehler.

"I'm so excited!!!," she said on her @thesheertruth Twitter feed, where she retweeted "SNL"'s announcement of her new job.

Video clips on YouTube depict Zamata impersonating pop diva Beyonce and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as a clip about street harassment that was endorsed on Twitter by "Girls" creator Lena Dunham.

Earlier this month, women's magazine Cosmopolitan named Zamata "one of 13 funny women to watch in 2014."