Chesapeake, Va. native Jay Pharoah will join the cast of “Saturday Night Live” for its upcoming season, making him the first Black comedian to be added since Kenan Thompson joined the show in 2003.
Pharoah, whose real name is Jared Farrow, has been performing since he was 15 and is well-known for his performances at Virginia Beach’s Funny Bone club. He previously was on tour with Corey Holcomb of MTV’s “Nick Cannon’s Wild ’N Out” and comedian Charlie Murphy, older brother of film star Eddie Murphy.
Those close to Pharoah saw his talent from a young age. Jeannette Schuler, Pharoah’s high school drama teacher told the Virginia Pilot how open he was to learning.
“He was willing to try anything!” she said. “He was very, very, very outgoing, right from day one.”
Pharoah was selected from an audition tape that had been going around for a year, according to The Washington Post. He learned he had earned the job last month after meeting with the show’s executive producer Lorne Michaels and the show’s writers.
Pharoah does impressions, including Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Jay-Z and President Obama. Rumors hold that he may replace current cast member Fred Armisen as Obama, but Pharoah remained mum on his role on the show.
“I just got here,” he told The Post. “I’m just trying to fit in. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Despite that, his family says they have no doubts that he’s right where he’s supposed to be.
“I knew that, with all of the talents he has, I knew that he would be a perfect fit for ‘Saturday Night Live,’” his sister Shaina Farrow told the Pilot. “I know he will do a great job.”