Wendy Williams landed herself in hot water after comments she made in “appreciation” of Joaquin Phoenix’s cleft lip were called out as offensive. She has since apologized.
During a recent episode of “The Wendy Williams Show,” the TV host was discussing how Beyoncé did not stand during Phoenix’s Golden Globes win for “Joker.” The conversation quickly transitioned into a discussion of Phoenix’s appearance after Williams said she found the actor “oddly attractive.”
“He’s got that good nose. It dips way down like he’s happy with it, so am I,” Williams said. “When he shaves off his mustache, he’s got a hairline fracture. He’s got one of those, what do you call that? Cleft lip, cleft palate.”
While describing Phoenix’s facial difference, Williams pulled her lip up to imitate a cleft lip in an offensive gesture many on social media were quick to call her out for, while a petition circulated asking her to be fired from the daytime talk show.
@WendyWilliams I Was Going To Try & Hold My Temper????????BUT IM SO F-NG ANGRY I CANT????.
In 1985 I Made a Film Called
“MASK”‼️THROUGH THAT FILM I BECAME INVOLVED WITH CHILDREN,& ADULTS WHO HAD CRANIOFACIAL
ANOMALIES. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE PPL GO THROUGH‼️20+ OPERATIONS
— Cher (@cher) January 16, 2020
As Ambassador for Cleft Lip and Palate Association @CLAPACOMMUNITY I really am disgusted by this @wendywilliams.. Mimicing a cleft lip, and making a joke about it, is disgraceful. Have you any idea the pain and operations a child with cleft must go through as they grow? Please RT https://t.co/bINZItpWgI
— Carol Vorderman (@carolvorders) January 9, 2020
This needs a RT!!! ????????????@WendyWilliams mimics a cleft lip and palate person!! I have a cleft lip and palate, so does my son who was just born, her actions are hideous and OFFENSIVE. Promoting bullying, with her platform, that’s IRRESPONSIBLE!! #EndBullying https://t.co/ynPidLaGf5
— Adam Bighill (@Bighill44) January 10, 2020
CLAPA is calling on @WendyWilliams to issue a public, on air apology for her ignorant, offensive actions on her show this week, and to educate herself about the reality of cleft lip and palate around the world https://t.co/pl6voYP0WH @carolvorders pic.twitter.com/nkOhLWTtLk
— CLAPA Community (@CLAPACOMMUNITY) January 10, 2020
Wendy, my little sister was born with a cleft pallet. Making fun of anyone for being born with it is just gross and cruel. If anyone wants to help children born with them @operationsmile does incredible work providing cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide. https://t.co/UBlocvpYoV
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) January 16, 2020
As a fellow minority in the media I’m sure @WendyWilliams has had to deal with and overcome much prejudice. It is therefor both alarming and upsetting that she could so casually and publicly mock those who have a cleft lip. Mocking Disability is Mocking Diversity #WendyWilliams. pic.twitter.com/KjEelE6ASE
— Adam Pearson (@Adam_Pearson) January 12, 2020
Following the backlash online, Williams apologized for her comments and gesture on Twitter Wednesday, adding “The Wendy Williams Show” had donated to the cleft palate organizations Operation Smile and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.
“I want to apologize to the cleft community,” Williams wrote. “[We] encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community.”
. @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