Eight months after leaving SNL, Jay Pharoah is opening up about his exit.
In an interview with HOT 97 on Thursday, Pharoah explained why he abruptly left the show last August.
“You go where you’re appreciated,” Pharoah explained. “If you have multiple people on the cast saying things like, ‘You’re so talented and you’re 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.’”
The 29-year-old comedian says that after receiving viral success for his impressions of Jay Z, Ben Carson and other stars, he was put into an “impression box” on SNL.
“They put people into boxes,” he said. “Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. And I’m fiery too… I’m not a ‘yes n****.’ That’s not me.”
Pharoah went on to explain that he was very vocal about the type of sketches he was willing take on and even called out the show for its lack of diversity. He claims that he was almost fired in 2013 after highlighting the absence of women of color on the show.
“I am the reason it happened,” he said, pointing out the hiring of Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata in 2014.
Despite all the hurdles, Pharoah says he has “no beef” or hard feelings toward SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels.
“Ain’t no problem with Lorne Michaels,” he said. “We on good graces and everything.”
Watch the full interview below.