Belfast Telegraph

Univision host Rodner Figueroa fired after Michelle Obama Planet of the Apes remark

Univision host Rodner Figueroa claims he was dismissed after he compared a make-up artist’s rendition of Michelle Obama to a cast member of the film Planet of the Apes.

Figueroa was fired after accusations of racism over comments he made during an appearance on El Gordo y La Flaca, where he was talking about the work of a make-up artist.

Figueroa had served as a fashion expert on Univision, among other roles, and was seated next to the two main hosts of the show Rai De Molina and Lili Estefan when he made the controversial remark.

The hosts had moved to a picture of a make-up artist who transformed himself into Ms Obama when he said in Spanish: "Look, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she's part of the cast of the film Planet of the Apes.'"

Shocked Estefan responded with: "What are you saying?" while De Molina described Ms Obama as “attractive”.

He replied: "I'm not saying she's not attractive. This is a characterization"

In an open letter to the First Lady he apologised unreservedly for his comments, but strenuously denied accusations of racism.

In it, he insisted the comments were not actually directed at Ms Obama and were instead aimed at “the characterization of the [make-up] artist”.

He claimed he was “notified verbally” that he was fired “due to a complaint from your office” and blasted an alleged information leak by “Univision executives” that lead to him being lambasted on social media and “destroyed” his career.

He wrote: “I ask for forgiveness, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to make those types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in a volatile moment that we live in our country.

“I take full responsibility for the lack of judgement in my part, but I can't accept that I am being called a racist, being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years.”

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