Wendy Williams Forced To Apologise After Mocking Joaquin Phoenix’s Cleft Lip

by : Cameron Frew on : 16 Jan 2020 08:07
Wendy Williams Joaquin PhoenixWendy Williams Joaquin PhoenixThe Wendy Williams Show/Fox Broadcasting Comapny/BET/PA Images

American TV presenter Wendy Williams has backtracked after outraging fans and celebrities alike with her mockery of Joaquin Phoenix’s cleft lip. 

The 55-year-old made the controversial comments while presenting her show, aptly titled The Wendy Williams Show. 


While she started off by pointing out his ‘piercing eyes’, she swiftly moved onto taking a jab at his cleft palate, pulling her lip up while audience members laughed. However, viewers at home didn’t find it quite so amusing.

Starting off by calling the Oscar-nominated actor ‘unusually attractive’, she then said: ‘When he shaves off his moustache he’s got a hairline fracture. He’s got one of those – what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate.’

The nonsurgical scar – which Phoenix has had on his top lip since birth – is often covered by facial hair. As per the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, he was likely born with a ‘microform cleft’, which doesn’t necessarily require surgery but leaves a groove on the lip.


Cher posted her outrage on Twitter in a series of tweets: 

After someone replied, saying Williams had apologised, Cher responded:


British TV’s Carol Vorderman drew attention to Williams’ behaviour last week, saying she was ‘disgusted’: 

Williams eventually issued an apology after Adam Bighill, a Canadian football player who was born with the condition as well as his son, got in touch with her. After Bighill posted a photo of his son Beau ready to go in for surgery, the host apologised to the ‘cleft community’.


Williams wrote on Twitter: 

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.

Bighill has since responded, replying: ‘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.’

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Celebrity, Joaquin Phoenix, Joker


Cleft Lip and Palate Association
  1. Cleft Lip and Palate Association

    What is Cleft Lip & Palate?