Jay Pharoah: SNL "Needs to Follow Up" on Promise to Cast Black Women

Comedian advocates for diversity on the long-running show.

Posted: 10/01/2013 12:00 PM EDT

Comedian Jay Pharoah is calling out his bosses at Saturday Night Live for not yet living up to their promise to add more diversity to the long-running show's cast. "I believe they need to follow it up like they said last year," Pharoah tells theGrio.com.

In fact, the SNL cast member, who is going into his third season on the sketch comedy show, has a candidate in mind: Darmirra Brunson, who is currently a co-star on Tyler Perry's Love Thy Neighbor. "They need to pay attention," Pharoah says. "She's really talented. She's amazing. She needs to be on SNL."

Indeed, there hasn't been a Black woman on the SNL cast since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, and the show's current cast only has three people of color total. Six new cast members were added for the late night mainstay's 39th season, all of them white.

Asked what he thinks is behind the show's diversity problems, Pharoah admits he doesn't know. "It's one of those things that's hard," he says diplomatically. "You have to be on point. Everybody has to like you and want you to win. If they don't like you, it's a wrap." It's not clear whether Pharoah is referring to SNL's audience or producers with that last statement.

On a show that made household names out of Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, Pharoah is a standout. His impersonations of President Barack Obama, Kanye West and Will Smith have become favorites with viewers. Pharoah hopes that the departure of such heavyweights as Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis will give him more room to shine. "There's a big gap to fill," he says. "I believe I will get more airtime this year."

Pharoah will return to the big screen next year with a role opposite his idol Kevin Hart in Ride Along.

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  (Photo: David Becker/Getty Images)

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