On the Jan. 7 episode of her show, Williams recapped the Golden Globes, leading her to talk about The Joker star, who was a big winner that night. While she was seemingly trying to compliment him, saying how attractive he looked in Walk the Line, she went on to mock a cleft lip by pulling up her lip, leading audience members to laugh.
“He knows how to transform. And the way he looks at you,” Williams said. “He’s got that nose, it dips way down, like he is happy with it, so so am I. And when he shaves off his mustache she's got a hairline fracture. He's got one of those, what you call them? A cleft lip, cleft palate. He's got this [pulling up her lip]. I find it to be very attractive.”
Of note, Phoenix has not been quoted speaking publicly about the scar on his upper lip, but a Vanity Fair profile on him in October noted that he said it was "not a surgically fixed cleft ... but a nonsurgical scar he was born with."
After a barrage of social media comments, including from Canadian football player Adam Bighill, whose son had cleft lip surgery this week and said WIliams’s comment “clearly promotes bullying,” the brash talk show host actually apologized for mocking the birth abnormalities, which happen when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. Williams said the show would be donating to Operation Smile and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, two non-profits that help individuals affected with cleft lip and cleft palate. She also said she was thinking about Bighill’s son amid his surgery.
. @Bighill44 We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to @operationsmile and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community.— Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) January 16, 2020
Bighill, who rallied his social media followers to get Williams to apologize, accepted the talk show host’s apology.
Thank you @WendyWilliams for your apology, your donation, and for thinking of Beau today for his surgery. I forgive you, and I encourage others to as well. I wish you all the best. https://t.co/JmYnRb8C8t— Adam Bighill (@Bighill44) January 16, 2020
But not everyone was feeling Wiliams’s “sorry.” Cher, in particular, blasted her — and didn’t think her apology was enough. The singer reminded that kids born with cleft lips “go through hell” — as do their parents.
She said Williams only apologized to keep her job.
APOLOGIZED🤬— Cher (@cher) January 16, 2020
THERE IS NO APOLOGY FOR
WHAT SHE DID…. & LAUGHED
ABOUT ‼️I KNOW THESE CHILDREN,& ADULTS.THEY GO THROUGH HELL,THEIR PARENTS GO THROUGH HELL‼️Fk Her Apology.
SHE WANTS TO KEEP HER JOB‼️I CANT CONTAIN MY ANGER‼️
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