Wendy Williams has finally apologized for making cruel comments about Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix’s cleft lip surgery scar.
The talk show host said sorry to the cleft community, while encouraging viewers to ‘learn more’ about supporting the community.
She also promised to donate money to Operation Smile and the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association to help families dealing with the condition.
Saying sorry: Wendy Williams has apologized for cruelly mocking Joaquin Phoenix for the scar on his lip
Her apology came in a reply to Canadian football player Adam Bighill, who had been a vocal critic of the star’s comments. He was born with the condition and whose infant son Beau also has a cleft palate.
Bighill reached out to Wendy for five days before finally getting an apology.
It was sharing a photo of son Beau right before the infant went into surgery which finally seemed to resonate with the hostess.
She replied to his tweet saying: ‘We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery.’
Wendy went on to say: ‘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.’
Bighill forgave Williams on Twitter, responding: ‘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.’
Apology: Her apology came in a reply to Canadian football player Adam Bighill, who had been a vocal critic of the star’s comments. He was born with the condition and whose infant son Beau also has a cleft palate.
Rude: Williams found herself in hot water after talking about Joaquin’s unconventionally attractive look. While his beard usually masks the scar, it’s visible in the press photo for Joker above
Before her mea culpa, Williams found herself in hot water after talking about Joaquin’s unconventionally attractive look.
Describing Phoenix as ‘oddly attractive’ she first fawned over his ‘piercing eyes,’ before critiquing a scar on the actor’s upper lip, which is often masked by a beard.
‘When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture,’ she said. ‘He’s got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate.’
She then crudely hooked her finger under her lip as if she was suffering from the condition, a common birth defect which happens when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy.
Poor excuse for a joke: ‘When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture,’ she said. ‘He’s got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate’
Really? She then crudely hooked her finger under her lip as if she was suffering from the condition, a common birth defect which happens when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy
The actor has said the mark is a nonsurgical scar he was born with, according to a Vanity Fair cover story from November.
It is thought Joaquin was born with a ‘microform cleft,’ a mild form of cleft which often doesn’t require surgery, but which leaves a small groove in the upper lip, according to the Cleft Lip and Palate Association.
Outrage against Williams didn’t hit a fever pitch until more than a week after her show aired, with Bighill leading the charge on Twitter.
Awareness: Upon first learning about the clip, Adam Bighill expressed his outrage by getting the word out
No stigma: After five days of tweeting, it was a photo of Beau which finally got Wendy to reply
‘This needs a RT!!!,’ he wrote last Friday. ‘@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.’
After five days of tweeting, it was a photo of Beau which finally got Wendy to reply.
‘Today is Beau’s big day,’ Adam wrote along with a photo of him holding his little guy. ‘He is getting his lip repaired today in Winnipeg by the fantastic Dr. Ross.
‘Thanks to everyone who has reached out, and in advance, thanks for any of your well wishes for Beau. He is so loved! #cleftstrong #1in700 #cleftcutie.’
Call out: Cher tweeted supporting the cleft community, who she has long helped through her volunteer work with the Children’s Craniofacial Association
Still not satisfied: Afterwards, Cher wasn’t moved by Williams’ apology, tweeting back a photo of Wendy’s rude pantomime while asking: ‘DOES AN APOLOGY MAKE UP FOR THIS?’
‘F*** her apology!’ The 73-year-old Oscar winner could not ‘contain’ her anger over the on-air gaffe
Plenty of people – celebs and civilians – slammed Wendy for her comments over the past week.
Cher tweeted on behalf of the cleft community, who she has long supported through her volunteer work with the Children’s Craniofacial Association.
Explaining how the stigma of having a cleft lip or palate affects young people she wrote: ‘Before their teens much of the time they are in pain,afraid,but have hope … they will look normal. The [heartbreak] & fear their parents go through is unbearable.
She went on to tell Wendy she should be ashamed of herself.
Unacceptable: British TV personality Carol Vorderman, 59, spoke out on Twitter, telling Williams her joke was ‘disgraceful’
Apologize! CLAPA Community, the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, called Wendy out
Seriously? One upset user explained why Wendy was out of line
WHAT IS A CLEFT LIP AND PALATE?
A cleft lip or palate occurs when the parts of a baby’s face do not join properly during its development in the womb.
Around 1,200 babies are born with the condition every year in the UK.
It affects approximately 4,440 annually in the US.
Cleft lips can range from a small notch in part of the lip to complete separation of the upper lip up to the nose.
This can also affect the gums where the teeth come from.
A cleft palate is a gap in the roof of the mouth.
If it affects the back of the palate towards the throat, it is called a soft palate.
A hard palate affects the front of the palate towards the lips.
Some babies with the condition may have smaller lower jaws, as well as possible breathing difficulties.
It is unclear exactly what causes a baby to develop a cleft lip or palate.
But it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as taking certain medicines during pregnancy.
Surgery is needed to close the gap left by the cleft, which usually takes place when the baby is under one-year-old.
Treatment may also be required to aid speech, teeth growth and hearing.
Source: Cleft Lip & Palate Association
‘If your mom saw what you did she’d be ashamed. My mom taught me to love & help ppl in pain.Who are u[?] u should b fired,’ Cher concluded.
Afterwards, Cher wasn’t moved by Williams’ apology, tweeting back a photo of Wendy’s rude pantomime while asking: ‘DOES AN APOLOGY MAKE UP FOR THIS?’
She wasn’t the only one to slam Wendy.
British TV personality Carol Vorderman, 59, spoke out on Twitter, telling Williams: ‘As Ambassador for Cleft Lip and Palate Association, I really am disgusted by this @wendywilliams.
‘Mimicking 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?.’
CLAPA Community, the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, called Wendy out, writing: ‘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.’
Average folk also chimed in.
One upset user explained why Wendy was out of line, writing: ‘This is Wendy Williams making fun of Joaquin Phoenix because of his cleft lip. She said “he is handsome as long as he doesn’t shave…he has that hair lip.” Calling a cleft lip “hair lip” is INCREDIBLY offensive!!!’
While Wendy has apologized, it doesn’t seem like Joaquin will have time to worry about her unkind comments.
The talent has a busy few weeks again, racking up awards nominations with the Screen Actor’s Guild, BAFTAs, and of course, the Oscars.
He’s a favorite in the category, already taking home the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Awards for his role.
Bigger things: Joaquin has just been nominated for an Oscar. He’s seen at the Critics’ Choice Awards last Sunday above