Wendy Williams made headlines this week after she upset viewers with a comment about Joker star Joaquin Phoenix’s lip scar. During her “Hot Topics” segment, the talk show host said that she finds Phoenix “oddly attractive,” adding that “when he shaves off his mustache, he’s got a hairline fracture.”
“He’s got one those, what do you call it? Cleft Lip. He’s Got This,” she said, pulling up one side of her lip with her finger.
“I find this to be very attractive,” she continued while her audience laughed.
Many found Williams’ comments to be insensitive, including Canadian football player Adam Bighill. Bighill has a son who was born with a cleft lip, and after a week of calling for Williams to apologize, she finally hopped on Twitter to address her controversial comments.
“[Bighill] We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to [Operation Smile] and the [American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association],” she wrote on Wednesday (Jan. 15). “And [we] encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community.”
While Bighill thanked Williams for her apology, it came as too little too late for other critics. The Source reports that a Change.org petition was even launched in an attempt to have Williams’ show canceled.
“So this ignorant piece of work decided to mock Joaquin Phoenix and his ‘hare lip, cleft lip, palate’ on daytime television and even went as far as pulling her upper lip with her finger, she is a total disgrace,” the petition read.
Phoenix was recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in Joker, which currently leads with 11 Academy nominations. Back in October during an interview with Vanity Fair, Phoenix revealed that the scar above his lip is actually a “nonsurgical scar he was born with,” rather than a surgically fixed cleft.