Jimmy Kimmel apologises for blackface sketches

Culture Desk | Published at 10:48pm on June 24, 2020

US TV host Jimmy Kimmel has apologised for using make-up to impersonate black stars like Snoop Dogg, Oprah Winfrey and basketball player Karl Malone, reports BBC

Kimmel said he had thought of his performances as ‘impersonations of celebrities and nothing more’. But, looking back, he admitted they were ‘embarrassing’ and described them as ‘thoughtless moments’. He said sorry ‘to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the make-up I wore or the words I spoke’.

Kimmel fronts a late-night talk show on ABC and hosted the Oscars in 2017 and 2018. He had been under pressure to address his past use of blackface, especially after fellow presenter Jimmy Fallon issued a similar apology last month.

Kimmel said he had been reluctant to speak about his sketches, however, because he thought that ‘would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us’.

He added: ‘That delay was a mistake.’

In a statement on Tuesday, he explained that he did an impression of former NBA star Malone on his radio show in the 1990s, and continued to impersonate the sportsman when he moved onto TV.

‘We hired make-up artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible,’ he said.