When “Saturday Night Live” decided not to invite longtime cast member jay Pharoah back for season 42, fans were shocked that “SNL” would axe one of the show’s best-ever impressionists, who won raves for impersonating everyone from President Obama to Kanye West to Shaquille O’Neal.
Pharoah has yet to comment on his firing — until now, breaking his silence in a candid interview with New York’s HOT 97, reports The Daily Beast.
“You go where you’re appreciated,” Pharoah said, implying the show didn’t give him enough to do. “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…”
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. “Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do,” Pharoah said, adding: “And I’m not a ‘yes n****.’”
During the interview, Pharoah shared his belief that “SNL” “gave up” on him, and likewise gave up on his portrayal of Obama, and he noted that the show squandered an opportunity to have his Obama appear in sketches with Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump.
At the end of the day, however, Pharoah insisted that despite everything that happened he still “respects the hell” out of “SNL” exec producer Lorne Michaels. Breaking into a Chris Rock impression, Pharoah quipped: “I met Lorne Michaels and I ain’t been broke ever since.”