Comedian Jay Pharoah, who spent six seasons on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” before the show opted not to pick up his contract last summer, had plenty to say about the show in an interview with Hot97.
“Pharoah, who was most famous for his portrayal of President Barack Obama, says that he was put into an ‘impression box’ where he was asked to do all the black impressions on the show,” Variety reports. “He explained to the radio hosts that when he was asked to do certain bits, such as wearing a dress, he wasn’t afraid to say no. He explains the reaction was, ‘What do you mean, you’re not doing it?!’”
Pharoah also said: “If you really noticed, for the last year and a half, they didn’t do any Obama sketches at all. I was like, ‘Just let me do my character, and we’ll be fine.’ They didn’t want to do that.”
“No disrespect to them, but I kind of feel like they gave up … gave up on the Obama thing,” Pharoah added.
Pharoah, who was interviewed by Hot97’s Peter Rosenberg and Laura Stylez, also referenced the show’s high-profile struggle to add an African-American woman to the cast.
Pharoah “alleges that the show almost fired him for speaking up about the lack of diversity among the cast, calling the series, ‘Wonder Bread — straight up,'” Variety reports.
NBC reportedly turned down a request from Variety to comment on the interview.
The full interview is posted on YouTube here.