Published: Sat, April 15, 2017
Life&Culture | By Ted Wilson

Jay Pharoah on His SNL Departure: I'm Not a Yes Nigga

Jay Pharoah on His SNL Departure: I'm Not a Yes Nigga

Jay Pharoah believes his outspoken nature is one of the reasons he's no longer on "Saturday Night Live".

Pharoah - born Jared Farrow - told hosts on Hot 97 in NY that he was pigeonholed into being the impressions guy on SNL.

"You go where you're appreciated", he said of leaving in August. While Pharoah says he has nothing but respect for Lorne Michaels, he said he feels like the show "gave up" on his Barack Obama impression and kept him in an "impression box" despite his view - as well as his fellow cast members' view - that he had talent beyond celebrity impressions that the show wasn't putting to use.

Things got bad, he explained, prior to the hiring of Sasheer Zamata, when there was't a single woman of colour on the cast - which meant that whenever a sketch featured a black female, he was expected to put on a dress and play her. Pharoah said. "I think they put people into boxes, and whatever they want you to do they expect you to do".

During a radio interview on New York's HOT 97 on Wednesday, Pharoah shared his feelings about his time on SNL and how he felt pigeonholed as just an impressionist.

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Pharoah said that SNL never bothered to take advantage of his range of skills as a comedian and a performer, instead relegating him exclusively to a handful of impressions of black celebrities.

"If you really noticed, for the past year and a half, they didn't do any Obama sketches", he said.

"I was like, 'Just let me do my character and we'll be fine, '" the 29-year-old recalled.

But perhaps the most fascinating revelation came when Pharoah claimed that he was nearly let go from the show years ago, when he called for the addition of black female cast members in an interview with The Grio. Pharaoh also claimed that he almost lost his job back in 2013 after pushing the show to diversify and get more black people on as cast members and other talent. And I'm fiery too... "We on good graces and everything. I'm not a yes n--a".

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