‘White Famous’ Star Jay Pharoah Talks Leaving ‘SNL,’ Working With Jamie Foxx

Jay Pharoah as Floyd in WHITE
Michael Desmond

Jay Pharoah is preparing to make a big leap forward in his career with the premiere of “White Famous” on Showtime.

Pharoah famously left “SNL” in 2016, landing the lead role in the upcoming comedy series from executive producer and series guest star Jamie Foxx shortly thereafter. According to Pharoah, the most significant change in the past year has been having the chance to enjoy his success.

“I guess the biggest change is being the lead of a series and actually just appreciating it,” Pharoah told Variety. “Being in a position to leave but having the humility where I’m not using my hand, because I never have to do that. Moving and change of scenery has been a real change of life. It’s insane out here [in L.A.].”

Pharoah stars in the series as Floyd Mooney, an up-and-coming black comedian who is forced to navigate the treacherous waters of maintaining his credibility as he begins to cross-over toward becoming “white famous.” The series is loosely based on Foxx’s own career as well as those of several other prominent black comedians, according to Pharoah.

“It was Jamie’s story and everything, and a lot of black comedians that have been on the come up’s stories,” he said. “So I kind of walked into it, read the script, got the concept and idea and was like, ‘OK, I like it. I’m on board with this.’ Jamie’s been amazing through the process. He’s always been there, was like, ‘You can call me.’ He checks in to see how things are going.”

However, Pharoah would not say whether the TV version of Foxx was anything like the real Foxx. “In the pilot [Jamie] was doing some wild stuff,” Pharoah said with a laugh. “Jamie’s such a good guy. I think his goal no matter what is just to have fun and I’m having a lot of fun with the character.”

“White Famous” premieres Sunday, Oct. 15 with the first two episodes airing, beginning at 10 p.m. on Showtime.