Late-night US television host and comedian Jimmy Fallon has apologized for appearing in blackface during a Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch two decades ago after a clip went viral on social media and triggered a storm of protest.
In the sketch, broadcast in 2000, Fallon, who now hosts The Tonight Show, was impersonating comedian Chris Rock and wearing heavy makeup.
Fallon said in a statement on Twitter: “In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
The clip, which has periodically resurfaced before, was posted by a Twitter user on Monday and quickly went viral, seeing the hashtag #JimmyFallonisoverparty start to trend.
Fallon is far from the first entertainment star or public figure to apologize for wearing blackface. Comic Sarah Silverman said she was fired from a movie after a photograph appeared of her wearing blackface during a 2007 episode of The Sarah Silverman Show.
Last year, several senior figures in Virginia politics were exposed as having worn blackface.
News anchor Megyn Kelly in 2018 lost her NBC job after she defended wearing blackface as part of a Halloween costume.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, last year defied calls to step down after a picture resurfaced from his medical school yearbook page that showed a person in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan costume.
Northam did not specify which of the pair he was, although he apologized, then later claimed he was not in the photograph, a point that was not subsequently fully clarified.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also sparked uproar and was obliged to apologize during his re-election campaign last year after old pictures of him in blackface at a party surfaced.
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