Jay Pharoah on ‘Saturday Night Live’ Exit: ‘Go Where You Are Appreciated’


He’s not holding back. Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah is speaking out about his departure from the cast of the long-running sketch comedy show last year.

In an interview with Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning on Thursday, April 13, the 29-year-old said he felt under-utilized during his time on the NBC show.

“You go where you’re appreciated. And if you have multiple people on the cast saying things like, ‘You’re so talented and you’re so able. They don’t use you and it’s unfair and it’s making us feel bad,'” Pharoah said.

The comedian, who is best known for his impressions of former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Ben Carson and Will Smith on SNL, added, “They put people into boxes. Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. I’m a little fiery too … I’m not a yes n—a.”

Pharoah left SNL last August along with Taran Killam, but he believes that the show was ready to get rid of him in 2013 when he spoke out about the lack of black female cast members. (The show subsequently added Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata to the cast.)

“When I said what I said and it went viral, I almost freakin’ lost my job,” he claimed.

Despite it all, Pharoah said he has no hard feelings toward the show’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels. “Ain’t no beef with Lorne,” he said. “We’re on good graces. It’s just that there have been some shaky times.”

Pharoah will soon be back on the small screen in the new half-hour Showtime comedy series White Famous, based on Jamie Foxx‘s early days in showbiz.

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