UPDATED 1/16, 1:15 p.m. ET: Wendy Williams has apologized for her outrageous comments about people suffering from cleft lips and palates—and has now pledged to donate to the American Cleft Palate Association.
In a tweet, the talk show host apologized directly to Adam Bighill, a Canadian professional football player, who has been outraged over her remarks since both he and his son have cleft palates and lips.
Bighill thanked Williams on Twitter "for your apology, your donation, and for thinking of Beau today for his surgery. I forgive you, and I encourage others to as well."
See original story below.
Commentators on social media are reacting to a distasteful comment Wendy Williams made last week.
On her Jan. 7 show, the host mocked 2020 Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix’s alleged cleft palate during her “Hot Topics” segment. While discussing the Joker star’s win at the Golden Globes, Williams complimented his “piercing eyes.”
She continued, “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 hooked her finger in her lip to impersonate the common birth defect, which happens when a baby’s lips or mouth don’t form properly. Phoenix has never formally addressed why his lip is scarred.
Adam Bighill, a Canadian professional football player who was born with a cleft lip and palate, had a son who was born with the same condition. Since hearing Williams’ remarks, Bighill has demanded an apology from her, and says he will keep tweeting until he receives a response.
On Jan. 10, he tweeted, “@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”
“Waiting for @FOXTV and @BET to let @WendyWilliams [know] that her actions/comments towards the cleft community are not okay,” Bighill wrote on Twitter on Jan. 14.
British TV personality Carol Vorderman, who identified herself as “ambassador for the Cleft Lip and Palate Association,” also shared her outrage on Twitter: “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?”
Williams hasn’t yet addressed the situation. Read the backlash to her commentary, which is bubbling particularly ferociously today, below.