Interview with actress and comedian Sasheer Zamata

photography and interview by Khary Simon

Backstage at the Lower East Side Film Festival , Sasheer discusses her work, influences, being nervous and her music playlist.

Not to make any assumptions on your process, but do you get nervous before a show?

Oh yeah, I do. I would get worried if I did not get nervous. I still get butterflies right before I go on, but the amount of time that I am nervous has decreased over the years. I used to get nervous a long time before the show, now it’s right before I get on stage. As soon as I am on stage, the nerves go away or they propel me. I don’t know if nervousness ever will go away.


What techniques do you do to relax?

I do this sonnet that I learned in college, from Love’s Labour’s Lost (William Shakespeare) I learned it in voice class. It’s good for diction and to repeat to myself. It also makes me feel like I have a familiar thing before each show. I go out of town often and it’s nice to do this thing that makes me feel calm and centered.


I understand that. It’s about a sense of familiarity. I always heard that JLO would always travel with her own sheets. I don’t know if that’s true, but I understand why one would do that. Having a sense of the familiar in every environment. 



OK, what are your five songs on your playlist?

Childish Gambino, Redbone
Beyonce, Diva 

Beyonce, Flawless

Kanye West, Fame

Big Baby D.R.A.M., Cute


Do these songs rev you up before a show?

No, not to rev me up. I can give you a different list for that. Although Beyonce’s Flawless is good for before a show or before an audition.


I can understand that because I listen to music outside my personality when at the gym. It’s either hardcore metal or trap music. 

Yeah, Tyler the Creator is what I would listen to while working out or getting amped up.


If you could go to a comedy show of anyone, live or dead, who would it be?

I would love to see Richard Pryor. I feel that I am still learning from him. He was such a great storyteller and I value storytelling in my own performance. That would be great to see that live and see how an audience reacts to that in real time.


Speaking of your work, you are in a great transition point right now. How does that feel?

Feels good to me. I would hope that I am constantly in transition. I would like to believe that I can continue to change my voice and change my message and how I am delivering it to people. It is still a learning process for me and I would feel badly if I stopped learning. I keep going because I want to find a new way to tell this “certain” idea, joke or message. It excites me still because its still new and fresh.

OK, childhood crush?

My first crush I remember is Patrick Stewart from Star Trek, The Next Generation.


Of course, he was so suave. 

So suave and powerful and commanding. My first TV crush and still is. Im in awe.


Last question, can you tell me a bit about your tattoo? 

Oh yeah. I have five. This is tiger. My little brother drew it. I was born the year of the tiger. I kinda feel that I am one with the tiger because they are silent and unassuming. Yet they are viscous in they attack. I’m kinda like that. People make assumptions about what I got and what I got is kinda a lot.