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Jay Pharoah

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Jay Pharoah
Pharoah in 2016
Birth nameJared Antonio Farrow
Born (1987-10-14) October 14, 1987 (age 36)
Chesapeake, Virginia, U.S.
  • Stand-up
  • television
  • film
EducationTidewater Community College (AA, AS)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Years active2010–present

Jared Antonio Farrow (born October 14, 1987), better known by his stage name Jay Pharoah, is an American stand-up comedian and actor. He was a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 2010 to 2016.[1] In 2015, he was ranked the 55th greatest Saturday Night Live cast member by Rolling Stone magazine.[2]

Early life[edit]

Pharoah was born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia. He began performing impersonations at age six and cites Gilbert Gottfried's character Iago in Aladdin as his first voice, explaining, "My father put me in a talent competition a couple of months later, and out of the whole thing I got fifth place."[3]

In 2005, Pharoah graduated from Indian River High School in Chesapeake. One of his characters, Principal Daniel Frye, is heavily influenced by IRHS's former principal,[4] James Frye.[5] Pharoah graduated from Tidewater Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in 2008 and an Associate of Science in 2010.[6] He briefly attended Virginia Commonwealth University.[1]


Pharoah at The Stand in June 2016

Pharoah has been performing stand-up comedy in community theaters and at comedy clubs in Virginia since he was 15.[7] He at one point toured with Corey Holcomb and Charlie Murphy.[1]

He became known for his many celebrity impressions,[8] including Barack Obama, Will Smith, DMX, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, Stephen A. Smith, Peter Dinklage, and Denzel Washington.[1]

Pharoah became an internet phenomenon when his impersonation of Barack Obama became widely seen on YouTube.[1][3]

2010–2016: Saturday Night Live[edit]

In 2010, Pharoah was hired by Saturday Night Live as a featured performer for the show's 36th season. Pharoah debuted on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 2010 and was regarded by Rob Moynihan of TV Guide as the "breakout player" for that season, for his impressions of Barack Obama, Ben Carson, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Stephen A. Smith, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Chris Tucker, Michael Strahan, Lil Wayne, Kevin Hart, Kendrick Lamar, Shaq and Denzel Washington.[1][3] He debuted his SNL impersonation of Barack Obama in the 38th season premiere on September 15, 2012, succeeding Fred Armisen in that role.[9] Rolling Stone magazine described him as the "Jimmy Fallon of 2 Chainz impressions."[2]

Pharoah appeared in the independent film Lola Versus, released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in June 2012. In 2014, he had a small role in the buddy cop film Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, and appeared in the independent film Balls Out, a sport comedy starring fellow SNL cast members Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon.[10]

In 2016, he appeared in a commercial for Old Navy,[11] alongside fellow SNL cast members Nasim Pedrad and Cecily Strong. On August 8, 2016, it was announced Pharoah alongside fellow cast member Taran Killam would be exiting the show ahead of its 42nd season.[12] Pharoah hosted the American Music Awards of 2016 with model Gigi Hadid. Pharoah has been working on his first album with record producer Myles William.[13]

Personal life[edit]

2020 encounter with police[edit]

In June 2020, amidst the ongoing George Floyd protests, Pharoah released footage showing how, in April 2020, he was detained at gunpoint[14] by the Los Angeles Police Department, with an officer kneeling on Pharoah's neck in the same manner as that which caused the murder of George Floyd.[15][16] Pharoah had met the generic description of a "black man in grey sweatpants and a grey shirt." After the officers Googled Pharoah's name, they apologized and let him go.[15]



Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
2012 Lola Versus Randy
2013 Underdogs Announcer 2
2014 Ride Along Runflat
2014 Balls Out Dan
2014 Top Five Mike
2016 Get a Job Skeezy D
2016 Sing Meena's Grandfather (voice)
2018 Unsane Nate Hoffman
2019 How to Fake a War Harry Hope
2020 Bad Hair Julius
2020 2 Minutes of Fame Deandre
2020 All My Life Dave Berger
2021 The Mitchells vs. the Machines Noah (voice)
2021 Resort to Love Jason King
2022 The Blackening Shawn
2023 Spinning Gold Cecil Holmes
2023 The Venture Bros.: Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart Nuno Blood (voice)
2023 Urkel Saves Santa: The Movie Jay-Z (voice) Direct-to-Video


Year Title Role Notes
2010–2016 Saturday Night Live Various Main cast (season 36-41)
2011 The Cookout 2 Eddie O TV movie
2014 Portlandia Jay-Z (voice) Episode: "Ecoterrorists"
2016–2017 Legends of Chamberlain Heights Montrel, Randy (voice) Main cast
2017 BoJack Horseman Man on the Street, Dashawn Manheim (voice) 2 episodes
2017 White Famous Floyd Mooney Main cast
2017–2024 Family Guy Skee-Lo, Kanye West, Kanye Canes, Brick Baker, Reverend Lucius, Moses Beauford (voices) Recurring role; Also consulting producer (2022–present)
2018 SuperMansion Various 3 episodes
2018 Champaign ILL Lou Recurring cast
2019–2023 A Million Little Things Omar Howard 3 episodes
2020 The Masked Singer Self Guest judge
2020 Loafy Zookeeper Dan (voice) Recurring cast
2020–2021 Nickelodeon's Unfiltered[17] Host TV series
2021 Robot Chicken Barack Obama (voice) Episode: "May Cause Your Dad to Come Back With That Gallon of Milk He Went Out for 10 Years Ago"
2022 That's My Jam Self Episode: "Jay Pharoah & Nikki Glaser vs. Terry Crews & Dan Finnerty"
2022 The Simpsons Drederick Tatum (voice) 2 episodes
2022 A Black Lady Sketch Show Lavonte Episode: "Bounce Them Coochies, Y'all!"
2022 Out of Office Neal TV movie
2022–2023 American Dad! Mr. Fritz / Angry Husband (voice) 2 episodes
2022 Bubble Guppies Buster (voice) Episode: "The Solar Light Spectacular!"
2023–present Invincible Bulletproof, Komodo Dragon, Various (voice) Season 2[18]
2024–present The Quiz with Balls Self Host

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Virginia native Jay Pharoah snags cast spot on "Saturday Night Live"; will he be their new Obama? Pharoah also raps". Washington Post. September 8, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "55. Jay Pharoah - 'Saturday Night Live': All 141 Cast Members Ranked". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on January 20, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Moynihan, Rob (March 7, 2011). "SNL's Fab Four". TV Guide. pp. 44–45.
  4. ^ "After 27 years, Indian River Principal James Frye retires". The Virginian-Pilot. June 12, 2014. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2014 – via HamptonRoads.com.
  5. ^ "Jay Pharoah pays tribute to his Chesapeake principal on 'SNL'". The Virginian-Pilot. December 14, 2010. Archived from the original on April 26, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2012 – via HamptonRoads.com.
  6. ^ "Jay Pharoah: From here to "Saturday Night Live"". TCC Today. January 28, 2016. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2023.
  7. ^ Sources conflict on when he started standup. The Washington Post source indicates he started at 15.
  8. ^ "NBC'S 'Saturday Night Live' Premieres September 25 With SNL Alum Amy Poehler & Chart-Topping Musical Guest Katy Perry" (Press release). NBC Universal. September 7, 2010. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  9. ^ "Inbox". TV Guide. October 8, 2012.
  10. ^ Luippold, Ross (July 24, 2013). "Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah Shooting Indie 'Intramural' In Austin This Summer". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Old Navy enlists SNL alums to improvise series of online spots". campaignlive.com. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Jay Pharoah Is Saying Goodbye to 'Saturday Night Live' to Pursue Other Opportunities". shadowandact.com.
  13. ^ "Jay Pharoah ('Saturday Night Live') Preps New Mixtape". Pitchfork. August 30, 2016.
  14. ^ "'SNL' alum Jay Pharoah says LAPD officers held him at gunpoint, kneeled on his neck". ABC7.com. June 13, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Frew, Cameron (June 13, 2020). "SNL Comedian Jay Pharoah Releases Footage Of Police Kneeling On His Neck". UNILAD.
  16. ^ Lewis, Sophie (June 13, 2020). "Former "SNL" star Jay Pharoah releases surveillance footage of LAPD officer apparently kneeling on his neck". CBS News.
  17. ^ Porter, Rick (June 26, 2020). "Jay Pharoah to Host Nickelodeon Game Show Unfiltered (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  18. ^ "Invincible Season 2: Release Date, Trailer, Cast & More". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 11, 2023.

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