Former Univision host Rodner Figueroa issued an open letter apology to First Lady Michelle Obama after he joked on on-air, she looked like she was a cast member from the Planet of the Apes. Rodner made the apology after he criticized the pictures a make up artist uploaded on Instagram where he changed his looks to appear like Mrs. Obama’s on the network’s entertainment show El Gordo Y La Flaca. On Wednesday during a live segment of the show, Figueroa watched as make-up Paolo Ballestero transformed himself into different female celebrities, which included Mrs. Obama.
As Figueroa analyzed the work by Ballestero as Mrs. Obama and a photograph of the actual FLOTUS, Figueroa made the distasteful comment:
Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of Planet Of The Apes, the movie
When the show’s host Lili Estefan asked what Figueroa meant and co-host Raul de Molina countered by stating Mrs. Obama was beautiful, Figueroa doubled down on the vile remark and stated:
But it is true.
Univision fired Figueroa for his the following day and issued a statement which rebuked comments. The following day, Figueroa wrote an apology to Mrs. Obama where he explained his comments were “taken out of context”and insisted he was not a racist and explained he came from a biracial family, with one parent being black, and voted twice for her husband, President Barack Obama. Figueroa stated his remarks were directed at the make up artist’s work, and not Mrs. Obama. Read Figueroa’s statement below:
I offer my sincerest apologies for a comment that I made about the characterization from a make-up artist that I made about you in the Univision entertainment program El Gordo y La Flaca.
I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and it was directed personally to you, but to the characterization of the artist, that left a lot to be desired. The clip in full context is proof.
I feel embarrased, I ask for forgiveness, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to make those types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in a volatile moment that we live in our country.
I take responsibility for this lack of judgement in my part, but I can’t accept that I am being called a racist and being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years. I come from a bi-racial Latin family, with family members, like my father, who is Afro-Latino.
I am the first presenter on Hispanic TV that is openly gay and I am an activist for causes that favor minorities, that have been discriminated against just like me. I openly voted twice for your husband Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man that respects minorities, like me, in this country.
I worked on two Univision shows where I commented about celebrity style, including the real family and Latin first ladies and I have never offended anybody because of their skin color, sexual orientation or nationality. I am a decent person, but a human in the end that makes mistakes like this one.
Although the comment was unpleasant and out of line I do not deserved being called a racist and I have to defend myself for respect and love to my family, my father, my fans and my community.
I was notified verbally that due to a complaint from your office I was fired. An information leak from Univision executives, I was condemend in social media, trying to destroy my career in an unfair manner, without letting me know personally and without an investigation that would allow to clear up the situation.
Again, I offer my humble forgiveness for the misinterpreation and I assume the responsibility.
If the comments were “out of context” like Figueroa claimed, why didn’t he say so when Lili asked him to clarify what he said?