Wendy Williams has apologized on Twitter for comments she made regarding Joaquin Phoenix’s facial scar on her talk series, The Wendy Williams Show, earlier this month that were considered insensitive toward the cleft palate community.
Wendy believed the actor had a cleft palate when he was younger due to a noticeable scar on his upper lip and pulled up her own lip to demonstrate what the medical condition looked like to her audience.
During the “Hot Topic” segment of her daytime talk series, Wendy noted she found the film star, nominated for an Academy Award in the Actor in a Leading Role category for his work in The Joker, to be attractive. She then said she liked the scar Joaquin sported on his top lip.
“When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture, he’s got one of those, what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate?”
In response to Wendy’s statement, Winnipeg Blue Bombers football player Adam Bighill shared an image on Twitter of him holding his adorable son Beau, who was born with the condition and was having surgery to repair his lip. Adam revealed the little boy and the family were readying themselves for the operation.
Adam then shared in a subsequent Twitter post that he believed Wendy’s comments and actions toward the cleft community promoted bullying.
The talk show host owned up to her remarks by responding to Adam on Twitter, apologizing to the cleft community and making donations in Beau’s honor to organizations that help children born with the medical condition.
Adam later thanked Wendy for her comments and accepted her apology.
Today is Beau’s big day. 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 pic.twitter.com/n3MxaLvl5f— Adam Bighill (@Bighill44) January 15, 2020
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. https://t.co/JmYnRb8C8t— Adam Bighill (@Bighill44) January 16, 2020
The birth condition, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy.
While some fans believed that Wendy was mocking the condition, others did not see her actions as being improper.
“Am I the only one who, when I watched the show and Wendy was talking about Joaquin and his scar from his cleft lip, took it not as insulting or mean or inappropriate, but complimentary as she was telling us how she found HIM and HIS SCAR SEXY?” said one Twitter user.
“I’m so glad you’re doing this. I know you were showing what a cleft lip was. I know you wouldn’t make fun of people with a disability,” remarked a second fan of the talk show host on the social media sharing site.
Joaquin Phoenix has not responded to Wendy’s statements regarding what she believes to be a former health condition.