Raven-Symone Defends Univision Host Who Compared First Lady to 'Apes'

by Zach Seemayer 9:46 PM PDT, March 18, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Raven-Symone is making waves once again after defending embattled Univision host Rodner Figueroa during an episode of The View.

Symone has been a guest host on The View all week, and during a discussion about Figueroa's firing -- after he said that Michelle Obama "looks like she's from the cast of Planet of the Apes" -- Symone got into a heated argument with co-host Rosie Perez.

Perez went off on the topic, saying that she believes there is rampant racism against black people in the Latino community.

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Symone, who recurred on Empire, defended the comments saying, "Was he saying it racist-like?"

"Michelle, don't fire me for this right now, but some people do look like animals," Symone added. "Is that rude? I look like a bird. So can I be mad at somebody that calls me Toucan Sam?"

The backlash against Symone's comments came quickly, but the 29-year-old actress decided to stick to her statements.

Speaking with The Daily Beast, Symone said, "I don’t think [people] heard what I said… I did not defend the man. I said that what he said was very distasteful. And I think that the organization is in the right to fire him. And I don’t believe that she looks like a racially charged animal that has been connected to the black community for years and years… He didn’t understand that that word is hurtful in some communities because of the connotation of it."

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"I’m not going to back down from what I believe in," Symone continued. "We should bring up the fact that on Instagram people do that every day."

During the view discussion, several other hosts weighed in on the controversy. Guest co-host Michelle Collins said, "I have a feeling he said it without even thinking. I think he should be fired for stupidity. If you're too stupid to realize that that's offensive, you should not be on TV."

After being fired, Figueroa apologized for his comments, and explained that they had been accidentally taken out of context.

Figueroa made the supposedly disparaging remarks during a segment in which he and his co-hosts discussed a viral video that showcased make-up artist Paolo Ballesteros transforming his face to look like a number of celebrities, including the first lady.

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Figueroa argued that his comments were intended as a criticism of Ballesteros’ work as a make-up artist, and was trying to say that Ballestreros’ version of Obama looked like it came from The Planet of the Apes.

Figueroa admitted, however, that it was irresponsible and inexcusable to say something “that could be interpreted as offensive or racist during these volatile times we're living in."

In his apology, he also highlighted the fact that he voted for Barack Obama twice.

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On The View, Perez bashed Figueroa's apology, saying that his argument that he voted for Obama is akin to people who argue that they can't be racists because they have black friends.

Raven-Symone is no stranger to controversy, despite claims that she tries to keep her name out of the headlines as much as possible. Check out the video below for a look at her emotional, revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey in which she talks about the tabloid pressures of being a celebrity.