That, and he refused to put on a dress.
The actor recently appeared on New York City's Hot 97's "Ebro in the Morning" radio show and let loose about being let go from "SNL" last year.
"They put people into boxes," Pharoah said. "Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do."
Using some colorful language at times, the performer known for his impressions of Jay Z, Chris Rock and Will Smith said he's "fiery" and had no problem pushing back at "SNL, including saying no to dressing as a woman for a skit.
Pharoah said when he remarked in a 2013 interview with The Grio
that "SNL" should hire a black actress, it almost cost him his gig.
"When I said what I said, and it got on the Grio, and it went viral, I almost freaking lost my job," he said.
Pharoah said he believes the controversy led to "SNL" bringing on Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones, who are both African American.
The comedian said his fellow "SNL" cast members told him he was being underutilized.
Pharoah said he felt the show "gave up on" his impersonation of then President Obama.
"I was like, 'Just let me do my character and we'll be fine,'" the 29-year-old recalled.
Pharoah has moved on from "SNL" to the new Showtime comedy series "White Famous," which is based on Jamie Foxx's experiences breaking into entertainment.
He added that he has no ill will for "SNL" showrunner Lorne Michaels.
"It ain't no beef with Lorne," he said. "We on good graces."