The face of President Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live is about to change. While viewers are used to seeing Fred Armisen play the commander-in-chief, this season cast member Jay Pharoah, who’s proven himself to be a talented impressionist, will take on the role of the president.
The Chicago Tribune reports that showrunner Lorne Michaels revealed in a New York Times interview that he has decided to go in a different direction this season. Pharoah’s talent for impersonation led to the change in performers. Pharoah, who joined the NBC show in 2010, has become known for his impressions of celebrities like Jay-Z and Will Smith. While he might not always physically transform into these stars, his vocal impersonations are spot-on.
Michaels told the Times, “Jay has been doing Obama in his act all summer, and Jay is coming into his own. I just thought it might be time to shake it up.”
Just because Pharoah is the new Obama doesn’t mean Michaels and the show value Armisen any less. Michaels said the 10-year SNL vet is “the backbone of the show now.”
This news comes shortly after the announcement that Jason Sudeikis will stay on the show at least until January, despite rumors that he would be leaving. Sudeikis will play Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney through eleciton season.
SNL returns this Saturday, Sept. 15, with host Seth MacFarlane and musical guest Frank Ocean.