US TV host Wendy Williams apologises after imitating Joaquin Phoenix's cleft palate

Ben Arnold
Wendy Williams attends the world premiere of Apple's "The Morning Show" at David Geffen Hall on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Wendy Williams (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Wendy Williams, host of The Wendy Williams Show in the US, has apologised to Joaquin Phoenix, after she mimicked the actor's cleft palate on her show.

Williams was talking about the Golden Globes, and Phoenix's win for the Joker movie, during a show last week, during which she said she found him 'oddly attractive'.

Read more: Can Joker win big at the Oscars?

“He knows how to transform, when he shaves [his beard] off, the way he looks at you,” Williams said. “And he’s got the good nose that dips way down, like he’s happy with it and so am I.

“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, He’s got this,” she added, demonstrating by pulling her lip up with her fingers.

“I find it to be very attractive,” she went on.

Wendy Williams (Credit: The Wendy Williams Show/YouTube)
Wendy Williams (Credit: The Wendy Williams Show/YouTube)

Following the segment, viewers took to Twitter, slating her for being insensitive.

Among the most vocal was Adam Bighill, the Canadian football player with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who has a cleft palate, and whose son Beau also has one.

Bighill, who campaigns for the charity Making Faces, tweeted: “Waiting for an apology and donation from @WendyWilliams and since we are still waiting, this campaign has gone viral.

“This campaign/message is all centered around one thing we all agree on, bullying is awful. Thank you all for being a part of the difference #end bullying.”

Read more: All of the Brits who won at the Golden Globes

Williams has now issued an apology and said that she will be donating to Operation Smile and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.

Tweeting after Bighill told fans that his son Beau was heading into surgery, Williams said: “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 @operationsmile and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community.”

Phoenix is up for an Oscar for his latest performance, in Todd Phillips’ Joker, which is up for 10 other awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.