Comedian Jay Pharoah believes Hollywood is conspiring to emasculate black men. In a recent interview with News Corp, the 30-year-old star, who claimed he was fired from Saturday Night Live after six seasons for refusing to wear a dress, said that racism often happens "behind closed doors" and is insidious.
"The dress thing is just an issue in the black community in general," Pharoah told News Corp. "They always emasculate a black man and try and put him in a dress and that seems like the initiation for you kinda making it. But I feel like if you're talented you don't need to go that route."
He went on to state that it was not only the fear of humiliation that black actors had to contend with, but also being pigeonholed.
Pharoah currently stars alongside Jamie Foxx in new comedy TV series, White Famous, which is loosely based on the early years of Foxx's Hollywood career. The Oscar winner's experiences are told through the fictional character, Floyd Mooney (Pharoah).
The Showtime comedy turns the Hollywood executives pulling the strings into caricatures of themselves while highlighting just how differently people of colour must navigate within the industry. Pharoah states: "Hollywood is Hollywood — it happens, definitely behind closed doors."
Foxx was himself asked to don a dress when he played Wanda in 90s comedy In Living Color in comedy skits. The likes of Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and Tyler Perry also had no qualms doing drag.
"White Famous does a good job of taking the topic and putting it out on the front street for everyone to see," Pharoah explained.
"So, if you want to see what happens in Hollywood to the black actors watch the show because we do a good job of showing people."
Pharaoh is not the first to entertain the drags for laughs theory. In 2011, funnyman David Chappelle told Oprah that balck men "must take a stand".
He explained to the host: "When I see that they put every Black man in a dress at some point in his career, I be connecting the dots, like why do brothers always have to wear a dress?"