Univision talk show host and fashion commentator Rodner Figueroa lost his job after he compared First Lady Michelle Obama on live television to a cast member of Planet of the Apes.
The incident ocurred yesterday on El Gordo y la Flaca and subsequently prompted social media outrage. His remarks were apparently edited out of the West Coast retransmission of the show. Univision is the largest Spanish-language TV network in the U.S.
“Figueroa made the controversial statement during a segment on makeup transformations alongside makeup artist Paolo Ballesteros—who has become Instafamous for his ability to make himself look like celebrities using different makeup techniques,” E! reported.
Figueroa, 42, a Daytime Emmy Award winner, said in connection with a photo of the First Lady, according to one translation, “Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of Planet of the Apes, the movie.”
“When hostess Lili Estefan countered with ‘What are you saying?’ and host Raul de Molina said Obama was very attractive, Figueroa defended his remark, saying ‘but it is true,'” AP reported.
Earlier today, Univision released the following statement in response to the incident.
“Yesterday during our entertainment program El Gordo y La Flaca, Rodner Figueroa made comments regarding First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect Univision’s values or views. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was immediately terminated.”
Rodner Figueroa won an Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Talent in 2014. According to London’s Daily Mail, the ex-Univision personality apologized to Michelle Obama in an open letter which read in part,
“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.”
In the long apology, the forgiveness-asking TV presenter also claimed that in its full context, he was directing the offensive comment about Planet of the Apes to the artist and not to the Mrs. Obama personally.
[Image via Twitter]