WASHINGTON – Rodner Figueroa, a fashion expert and Emmy-winning talk show host has been fired by Spanish-language TV station “Univision” when he compared the Michelle Obama (First Lady) to a character from Planet of the Apes.
Rodner Figueroa made the insensitive remark on the entertainment news show “El Gordo Y La Flaca” (The Fat and the Thin).
Figueroa, 42 made the remark in a segment while they were commenting on a viral video that shows a makeup artist Paolo Ballesteros transforming him into different celebrities, including Michelle Obama.
They were talking about how Ballesteros had transformed himself into the First Lady when ‘Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s from the cast of Planet of the Apes, the movie.’ Figueroa said with a laugh.
After that his co-hostess Lili Estefan trying to correct his colleague’s racist remarks said ‘What are you saying?’ and host Raul de Molina said Obama was very attractive, Figueroa defended his remark, saying ‘but it is true.’
News of Figueroa’s racist remarks spread like wildfire and after few hours his photo was removed from the network’s website.
In a statement on Thursday, Univision called Figueroa’s comments ‘completely reprehensible’ and said they ‘in no way reflect the values or opinions of Univision.’
On Thursday he issued an open letter apology to Michelle Obama.
‘I can’t accept that I am being called a racist and being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years,’ he said.
‘I come from a bi-racial Latin family, with family members, like my father, who is Afro-Latino. I am the first presenter on Hispanic TV that is openly gay and I am an activist for causes that favor minorities that have been discriminated against just like me.’
It is pertinent to mention here that Figueroa has won the award for Outstanding Daytime Talent in the Spanish category at the Daytime Emmy Awards and Univision is the largest Spanish-language network in the United States.
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