An American television host apologized to Joker star Joaquin Phoenix after appearing to make fun of a scar on his upper lip.
Wendy Williams was arguing about the actor after his recent victory at the Golden Globes and said he finds it “strangely attractive.”
He then described the Phoenix scar to the audience as a “hair fracture.”
She said: “He has one of those, what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate.
“I find it very attractive,” he added.
Williams then hooked his finger on his lip to mimic the birth defect, which occurs when parts of a baby’s face do not join properly during development in the womb.
Phoenix, who is nominated for an Oscar for his lead role in Joker, has not spoken publicly about his scar.
Williams’ comments sparked online fury.
Canadian American football player Adam Bighill, who was born with a cleft lip and whose son, Beau, was also born with one, said the comments were “horrible and offensive.”
. @ Bighill44 We are thinking about Beau today, since he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the split community and, in honor of Beau, our program is donating to @operacionesmile Y @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the split community.
– Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) January 16, 2020
Williams, 55, now apologized “to the split community” for his statements on the January 7 episode of The Wendy Williams Show, and said the show is donating to two charities that support people with the defect .
He also said he wanted to “encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the split community.”
A cleft is a space or division in the upper lip and / or the palate and is present from birth.
According to the NHS, a cleft lip and palate is the most common facial birth defect in the United Kingdom, and affects approximately 1 in 700 babies.