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Jay Pharoah

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Jared Antonio Farrow (born October 14, 1987), better known by his stage name Jay Pharoah, is an American actor, stand-up comedian, impressionist, rapper, and voice actor. He joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live in 2010, for its thirty-sixth season.[1] In 2015, he was ranked the 55th greatest Saturday Night Live cast member by Rolling Stone magazine.[2]

Early life

Jay Pharoah

Pharoah at The Stand in June 2016.

Pharoah was born in Chesapeake, Virginia. He and his twin brother were premature, and his brother died at birth.

Pharoah began doing impersonations at age 6 and cites Gilbert Gottfried's character in Aladdin, Iago, 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[4] principal, James Frye.[5] Pharoah went on to study business at Tidewater Community College and Virginia Commonwealth University.[1]


Pharoah has been performing stand-up comedy in community theaters and at comedy clubs in Virginia since he was 15.[6] He at one point toured with Corey Holcomb and Charlie Murphy.[1] He became known for his many celebrity impressions,[7] including Barack Obama, Will Smith, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Murphy, Chris Rock, Kanye West, Stephen A. Smith and Denzel Washington.[1]

Pharoah became an internet phenomenon when his impersonation of Barack Obama became widely seen on YouTube. In early 2010, Pharoah appeared in a series of segments that aired on 106 & Park in promotion for the 2010 BET Awards, where his character had to deliver an important package for television personalities Rocsi and Terrence J.[1][3]

2010–present: Saturday Night Live

In 2010, Pharoah was hired by Saturday Night Live as a featured player for the show's 36th season. As of September 2014, he is the second-youngest male member of the current cast at age 27 (at the same age, but a few months younger, Aidy Bryant is the youngest female cast member while newcomer Pete Davidson is the youngest male member, born in 1993 and aged 21) and the second youngest African-American male cast member after Eddie Murphy (who was only 19 when he was hired in 1980).

Pharoah debuted on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 2010 and is regarded by Rob Moynihan of TV Guide as the "breakout player" for that season, for his seemingly effortless impersonations of Jay-Z, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Lil Wayne, 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.[8] Rolling Stone magazine described him as the "Jimmy Fallon of 2 Chainz impressions."[9]

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 other SNL cast members Nasim Pedrad and Cecily Strong.


  • Saturday Night Live (2010-present)
  • Lola Versus (2012)
  • Ride Along (2014)
  • Balls Out (2014)
  • Top Five (2014)
  • Get a Job (2016)
  • Sing (2016)


  1. ^"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 2010-09-27.
  2. ^"55. Jay Pharoah - 'Saturday Night Live': All 141 Cast Members Ranked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  3. ^Moynihan, Rob. "SNL's Fab Four", TV Guide, March 7, 2011, Pages 44-45
  4. ^The Virginian-Pilot© June 12, 2014 (2014-06-12). "After 27 years, Indian River Principal James Frye retires". Retrieved 2014-11-11.
  5. ^The Virginian-Pilot© December 14, 2010 (2010-12-14). "Jay Pharoah pays tribute to his Chesapeake principal on 'SNL'". Retrieved 2012-01-15.
  6. ^Sources conflict on when he started standup. The Washington Post source indicates he started at 15.
  8. ^"Inbox". TV Guide. October 8, 2012.
  9. ^"55. Jay Pharoah - 'Saturday Night Live': All 141 Cast Members Ranked". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  10. ^Luippold, Ross (2013-07-24). "Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah Shooting Indie 'Intramural' In Austin This Summer". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-10.
  11. ^"Old Navy enlists SNL alums to improvise series of online spots". Retrieved 2016-06-12.

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