Jimmy Kimmel apologized in a lengthy statement for offensive impressions he did of Black celebrities in the past, including NBA star Karl Malone, Oprah Winfrey, and Snoop Dogg.
Jimmy Kimmel apologized for the “embarrassing” impressions he did of multiple Black celebrities in the past, including former NBA star Karl Malone. For his Malone impersonation, shown on the Comedy Central program The Man Show, which ran from 1999-2004, Jimmy wore blackface. In a prepared statement, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host, 52, said that he believes that he’s evolved and “matured over the last twenty-plus years,” and hopes that is “evident to anyone who watches my show.”
“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake,” Jimmy said in his June 23 statement. “There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”
Jimmy explained in his statement why he used blackface in his Karl Malone impression, but did not defend it. “On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy’s offensive impressions weren’t limited to the NBA star. The statement comes one day after it emerged that he impersonated Snoop Dogg for a 1996 parody Christmas album, in which he used the n-word multiple times. “I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie [O’Donnell], and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more,” he said. “Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices.”
Jimmy ended by saying that his recent announcement that he was taking time off to spend “even more time” with his family didn’t have anything to do with the controversy: “My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”