Jay Pharoah is finally opening up for the first time after unexpectedly being fired from Saturday Night Live last year and he isn’t holding anything back.
Pharoah, 29, was let go along with Taran Killiam last August before SNL‘s 42nd season. Pharoah was arguably best known for his Barack Obama impersonation during his six years with the show and his release came as a surprise to fans.
Speaking with New York’s HOT 97 on Wednesday, Pharoah discussed his feelings about his SNL tenure and how he felt limited as just an impressionist.
“You go where you’re appreciated,” he said at first.
“And if you have multiple people on the cast saying things like you’re so talented and you’re so able and they don’t use you and it’s unfair and it’s making us feel bad because they don’t use you and you’re a talent…”
He continued, saying the show puts performers “into boxes,” and he believed his only opportunities on the show were impressions of black celebrities, including former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson and actor Will Smith.
“They put people into boxes. Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. And I’m fiery too…I’m not a ‘yes n—-.’ That’s not me,” he said.
Pharoah, whose popular impressions included rappers Jay Z and Drake, believes that the show “gave up” on him and his Obama character.
“If you really noticed, for the last year and a half, they didn’t do any Obama sketches,” he said.
Jared Antonio Farrow, better known by his stage name Jay Pharoah, is an American actor, stand-up comedian, impressionist, rapper, and voice actor. He joined the cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live in 2010, for its 36th season and was let go after six years before the show’s 42nd season.