While comedian Jay Pharoah has used his comedic gifts to uplift the spirits of people around the world, there was a time when he needed that same joy and encouragement. The Virginia native recently appeared on the Tamron Hall Show, where he opened up about being bullied as a child, and how his sister encouraged him to pursue comedy as a coping mechanism.
In a recent study, it was found that one in five students actually report being bullied in school—and most reports come from males. Of those students who reported being bullied, 13% were made fun of, called names, or insulted—much like Pharoah's experience.
He describes, in detail, how the words of others affected his mental health—even words from his parents.
“As a kid, I was bullied everywhere. It was at school, home even, my parents would say stuff, they didn’t mean it, but they would, you know? I was a chunky kid, he jokingly says. “I can blame New York for this. I love New York and my aunts are up here, but they eat. When I was five, my parents sent me up here for a summer with my sister, and I remember when I took a shower before I left, the water would go straight down my back, like straight down. When I got back from New York, it was shooting off, getting everything wet. And I’m looking around like, wait a second. I was like, ‘Yo, what is this?’ I had what I like to call ‘robustness’ down there, or in the contemporary terms we can say I had a ‘Meg[an] Thee Stallion a**.’”
After discussing his experience of being teased and bullied at home and in school, Hall surprised Jay Pharoah with a surprise video message from his sister and manager, Shaina Farrow.
“I just want to say congratulations. You all know him as Jay, but you will always be Jared to me. When we started this journey years and years ago, it was not even a question whether or not I was going to support you and help your dreams come true. And I am so proud of how you've grown and how you continue to move in the way that you want to move and advocate for the things you want. I know that you have a relationship with the Lord, keep that as tight as possible and there is nothing that you can’t do. And I can't wait to see how far you will go. I love you. Congratulations. Let's make this movie [Spinning Gold] number one.”
Visibly moved to tears, Pharoah recounts how much this moment meant to him, as his sister has always protected him.
“My sister, she’s always protected me,” Pharoah told Tamron Hall. “That means so much, that message, because we’ve been on this journey together.”