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Wendy Williams Issues an Apology on Cleft Palate Comments, Only After Being Confronted by CFL PLayer

Gettyimages | Astrid Stawiarz
By Zachary Holt

The often highly-opinionated Wendy Williams has found herself in hot water, once again, this time, though, as a result of some insensitive comments she made towards the Joker actor, Joaquin Phoenix, and the congenital cleft palate that he was born with. Now she's being forced to issue a formal apology to the actor and others born with the facial malformation.

While the comments she made about Phoenix were generally positive, complimenting his looks, the manner in which she made the statements proved to be insensitive, prompting people on social media to call her out, even the Canadian Football player, Adam Bighill, whose own son, Beau, was born with a cleft palate and was requiring additional surgeries in the near future to correct it.

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Williams Makes Insensitive Comments About Phoenix's Cleft Palate

The Wendy Williams Show

On the show in question, it wasn't just the comments she made that caused an immediate backlash, but also the gesture of her pulling her top lip up with her finger to depict a 'cleft palate'. "When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture," she said on her show. "He’s got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate," the daytime talk show host said.

Bighill would not tolerate the bullying narrative that Williams was propagating on national television, though. He tweeted at the host, "Thank you @FarhanLaljiTSN at the end of the day this is something we can all rally behind, and that’s a mission to #endbullying . @WendyWilliams comments/actions towards the cleft community clearly promotes bullying. @saints @nfl @cfl."

Apology Issued Towards CFL Player Adam Bighill and Son Beau

Adam Bighill | Twitter

In an about-face move, Williams responded to being called out by issuing a formal apology. "@Bighill44 We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery," she wrote. "I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to @operationsmile and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community."

Williams also made sure to include the PR saving move of donating to two organizations associated with cleft palate defects and awareness. Whether or not Bighill actually appreciated the apology, he still took the higher road and thanked her for retracting her comments on congenital malformations tweeting, "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."

Phoenix Remaining Busy between Golden Globes and Oscars

Gettyimages | Kevin Winter

As for the award-winning actor himself, Phoenix hasn't made any public comments on the matter, and it's likely he won't. Aside from not being a figure that enjoys being in the public eye, the Joker star has been pretty busy lately with the seasonal award ceremonies, countless nominations, and climate change protests.

At the recent Golden Globes award show, Phoenix took home the hardware by the Hollywood Foreign Press Associated for Best Male Actor for his role as Arthur Fleck in Joker. The actor is setting up nicely for the upcoming Academy Awards with the comic book film raking in a total of eleven nominations. It's likely that he'll add to his trophy case when he appears at the Oscars next month.

Joker Star Arrested at Green New Deal and Climate Change Protest

Getty Images

Phoenix has also been using his platform to speak out against climate change and was recently arrested last week, alongside Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen, as a part of Fonda's 'Fire Drills' in Washington, DC. The purpose of the protests has been to provide support for the Green New Deal and other legislation designed to tackle the issues surrounding climate change.

Before being arrested, Phoenix issued a decree on the use of meat and dairy products and how they are exacerbating the issues of climate change. "Something that oftentimes isn't talked about in the environmental movement or in the conversation about climate change is that the meat and dairy industry is the third-leading cause of climate change," Phoenix said. "I think sometimes we wonder, 'What can we do in this fight against climate change?' And there is something you can do today, right now, and tomorrow by making a choice about what you consume."

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