Lorne Michaels told the New York Times on Wednesday that Jay Pharoah, a featured player for two years who is entering his first as a cast member, will be taking over the role from Fred Armisen, who has played the president since the 2008 election.
"Jay has been doing Obama in his act this summer, and Jay is coming into his own," Michaels told the Times. "I just thought it might be time to shake it up."
Armisen's Obama has never risen to the beloved heights of, say, Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton or Will Ferrell's George W. Bush. Moreover, when he was chosen for the part in 2008, people immediately pointed out that the first African-American president was not actually being played by a black man on "SNL." By promoting the 24-year-old Pharoah, who is black, the show solves that issue.
Here's a clip of Pharoah doing his Obama impression during a stand-up set in 2009:
Pharoah's elevation is just one of many changes the show is going through as it enters its 38th season. Former cast members Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Abby Elliott have all left "SNL." On Monday, the show announced the addition of three new featured players.
One thing that isn't changing is Pharoah's electoral opponent on the show: Jason Sudeikis, who plays Mitt Romney, announced on Wednesday that he is returning to "SNL."