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Why Denise From Home Economics Looks So Familiar

If Denise from "Home Economics" looks familiar, it's because the actress has a long body of work behind her, particularly in comedy.

Centering on the lives of three siblings all at different points in the economic ladder, "Home Economics" is an often hilariously relevant show as the main characters (and those around them) confront modern issues and struggles surrounding the financial situations of millennials, a topic not often covered in scripted television. Season 2 of "Home Economics" has kept the show's momentum going, even shocking many by landing none other than "Shark Tank" star and billionaire Mark Cuban for a guest spot as himself in the episode "Poker Game, $800 Buy In." Created by Michael Coulton and John Aboud — perhaps best known as writers on "Penguins of Madagascar" — "Home Economics" gives its large cast of stars plenty of room to shine even amidst totally normal situations like a Cuban cameo. 

The series has an impressive central cast with Topher Grace (who also executive produces), Caitlin McGee, and Jimmy Tatro playing the three central siblings — Gary, Sarah, and Connor — but Denise actress Sasheer Zamata often steals the stage. Denise is a teacher and the wife of Sarah, the middle sibling, and her presence should come as no surprise when you look at Zamata's background, from her independent roots to working on one of the most important comedy stages in the world. Despite all of this success though, Zamata is a young artist at 35, with likely many more significant works ahead of her.

Sasheer Zamata began with YouTube sketches playing Michelle Obama and others

Sasheer Zamata uploaded numerous YouTube videos in the beginning of her career that earned her a solid following. These sketches, now difficult to find, mostly centered around impressive impressions of real life figures like Michelle Obama, Beyonce, and Tyra Banks. One video includes her reading a version of a satirical children's book as Obama, whom she would also portray later in her career, and another has her reading Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" as Nicky Minaj (via Mother Jones). The videos are listed as private today on YouTube, but were posted mostly from 2009 to 2011 with titles like "Michelle Obama's Breaking Point" and "Beyonce as a Mommy." While posting this content, Zamata was also working with the Upright Citizens Brigade, a sketch comedy group that comedians like Amy Poehler also belonged to, in New York. 

Cosmopolitan named Zamata one of 13 funny women to watch in 2014, noting her work with Upright Citizens Brigade, her standup comedy around New York City, as well as her short video content. It was arguably that content which landed her what would be the game-changing gig of her career, and which allowed her to call back to some of those impersonations that had made her originally stand out. 

Sasheer Zamata was on Saturday Night Live for years

Sasheer Zamata's biggest break came when she made it into the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 2014. The celebration and hype around her was big, with many highlighting her past videos and comedy work, but it was also a significant moment in that she was the first Black female cast member for the show in years. The series had been accused of not putting enough effort into diversifying its cast at the time, with the last Black female cast member being Maya Rudolph, who left the show in 2007 (per Cinema Blend). 

Zamata racked up an impressive four seasons of "Saturday Night Live" under her belt, ultimately leaving in 2017. On the show, she performed many of her impressions, including Obama and Rihanna, whom she pulled out in her debut episode. Some of Zamata's best sketches poke fun at popular pop culture phenomena, including one in 2016 where she plays the character Lucas Sinclair, portrayed by Caleb McLaughlin on Netflix's "Stranger Things." The sketch hilariously pops Kenan Thompson and Leslie Jones in as Lucas' parents, and they have little patience for talk of the Upside-Down and the like. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Zamata later described her experience on the show as not being what she had anticipated before signing up, but she described herself as an artist who has progressed because of it, which is evidenced by the fact that her career has not slowed down since leaving the show.

Sasheer Zamata joined fellow SNL alum Tracy Morgan for The Last O.G.

Sasheer Zamata may also be recognizable from her recurring role on TBS' "The Last O.G." The series is led by fellow "SNL" alum Tracy Morgan and it was co-created and produced by "Get Out" filmmaker Jordan Peele. Premiering in 2018, Zamata did not appear until the 2020 Season 3 episode "Started from the Bottom," the second of the season. 

In the show, Morgan portrays a man entering a new world and trying to rebuild his family after spending 15 years in prison. The comedy often involves Morgan's Tray getting schooled on just how culture has changed over the years, one case in point being Zamata's first episode as the character Isis. Tray is meeting his neighbors and asks her if he can get a smile, to which Zamata rips into him with an energy way many of her stand up comedy fans will recognize. This, however, only leads Tray to then offer to open a door for her, to which she has to give him another lesson, informing him women can open their own doors these days. 

Zamata appears in two subsequent Season 3 episodes of the series — titled "The Breaks" and "In Da Club" — and is definitely one of the more memorable characters from across the comedy's four seasons. 

Sasheer Zamata is also on Hulu's Woke

Sasheer Zamata is also one of the main characters on Hulu's "Woke," which premiered Season 2 in April of 2022. The show follows a Black cartoonist who finds himself far more aware of — and annoyed at — the social injustices around him, big and small, after a run-in with police. Season 1 premiered in 2020, and it was a long wait for Season 2, but it finally arrived for fans nearly two years later on April 8. 

Zamata has appeared in 15 of the 16 total episodes of "Woke" as Ayana, a San Francisco activist and friend and sometimes guiding voice to the show's protagonist, Keef Knight (Lamorne Morris). The show was co-created by Keith Knight and Marshall Todd, with the story partially based on the life of Knight and his own experiences (per Cosmopolitan). Keith is an artist himself and draws the cartoons seen on the series, which is at times mixes live-action and animation. Keith said the incident in the show's opening episode, where the main character is assaulted by police after being misidentified, happened to him all the way back in the 1990s. 

Season 3 of "Woke" has not yet been announced, but it speaks volumes about where Zamata has taken her career that she's now appearing on two major series, one for ABC and the other for Hulu.