Univision has fired host Rodner Figueroa after he made a derogatory comment comparing Michelle Obama to the Planet of the Apes characters.
Figueroa, who is known for his fashion commentary, made the remarks during Wednesday’s live segment of El Gordo y la Flaca. The hosts were watching a viral video of a makeup artist transforming himself into different celebrities. When Obama’s face was shown, Figueroa said, “Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of Planet of the Apes, the movie.”
When Ronder’s co-hosts Lili Estefan and Raul de Molina questioned what he was saying and described Michelle as beautiful, Rodner defended his comment, saying, “But it is true.”
Ronder, who won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2014, has since been fired from the company. Univision released a statement regarding Figueroa’s comments on their website, stating that they do not reflect Univision’s values or views.
“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.”
Following his termination, Ronder issued a statement apologizing to Michelle Obama.
“I feel embarrassed,” Figueroa wrote, according to US Weekly. “I apologize, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to do these types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in such volatile times in our country. I take responsibility for this lack of judgment on my part, but I can not accept being called a racist by anyone and be dismissed as such, and publicly humiliated by Univision after 17 years in this business.”
“The full video clip in context shows that,” he said, explaining that his comments were directed towards the makeup artist and not Obama. “I come from a biracial Latino family with members like my father who are Afro-Latino… I openly voted twice for your husband, Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man who respects minorities like me in this country.”
Figueroa then addressed why he was fired, saying he was verbally notified the complaint came from the White House. However, Univision, the fifth largest network and the largest Spanish language broadcaster in the United States, denied they were contacted by Obama. They said that his remarks alone were what caused him to be fired.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]