Rebel Wilson attends the 2018 InStyle Awards at The Getty Center on October 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images) The past several days have not been kind to actress Rebel Wilson. The 38-year-old “Pitch Perfect” star issued a lengthy apology Monday for falsely claiming last week to be “the first ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy” and subsequently blocking critics — namely people of color — on social media, many of whom were quick to rebuke the statement for “erasing” the contributions of prominent black actresses, such as Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique. “In a couple of well-intentioned moments, hoping to lift my fellow plus sized women up, I neglected to show the proper respect to those who climbed this mountain before me like Mo’Nique, Queen Latifah, Melissa McCarthy, Ricki Lake and likely many others,” Wilson tweeted. “With the help of some very compassionate and well-thought out responses from others on social media, I now realize what I said was not only wrong but also incredibly hurtful.” She continued: “I blocked people on Twitter because I was hurting from the criticism, but those are the people I actually need to hear from more, not less. Again, I am deeply sorry.” In a couple of well-intentioned moments, hoping to lift my fellow plus sized women up, I neglected to show the proper respect to those who climbed this mountain before me like Mo’Nique, Queen Latifah, Melissa McCarthy, Ricki Lake and likely many others.— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) November 5, 2018 With the help of some very compassionate and well-thought out responses from others on social media, I now realize what I said was not only wrong but also incredibly hurtful. To be part of a problem I was hoping I was helping makes it that much more embarrassing & hard to-— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) November 5, 2018 acknowledge. I blocked people on Twitter because I was hurting from the criticism, but those are the people I actually need to hear from more, not less. Again, I am deeply sorry.— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) November 5, 2018 It all began on Halloween. During an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Wilson, who was asked about her new film coming in February, “Isn’t It Romantic,” said she was “kind of proud” to be the first plus-size woman to star in a romantic comedy. In the movie, Wilson plays a woman who hits her head and wakes up in the middle of a romantic comedy. Wilson’s comment drew resounding cheers from the studio audience and applause from DeGeneres herself, who remarked, “That’s great.” On social media, however, the response was less positive. I love @RebelWilson as much as the next girl, but she isn’t the first plus sized woman to play the lead in a romantic comedy. Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique have both played romcom leads 🤔 https://t.co/l2uEpwvcsF— Halfapintdoll (@Halfapintdoll) November 1, 2018 Don’t get me wrong – there aren’t nearly enough fat and plus-size actresses cast as romantic leads but that statement from Rebel Wilson – issa no. pic.twitter.com/32x3n6izYx— ReBecca“Rebel Wilson Unblocked Me” Theodore-Vachon (@FilmFatale_NYC) November 1, 2018 Twitter users pointed out how Queen Latifah had starred in romantic comedies, such as 2006′s “The Last Holiday” and 2010′s “Just Wright,” and Mo’Nique was the lead in the 2006 film “Phat Girlz,” in which she portrayed an aspiring fashion designer searching for love in a culture that values being thin. Nabela Noor, a social media star and beauty guru, posted an Oct. 31 video to Twitter explaining why she found Wilson’s comment to be problematic. “What troubles me is that this statement erases the contributions of extremely prominent women that have made a big, big, big mark for plus-sized women,” Noor said in the video, mentioning the influence Queen Latifah had on her life. As of early Tuesday morning, the video had been viewed more than 297,000 times. Women of color have to work much harder to “make their mark” in the entertainment industry, Noor said. “It’s really unfortunate when fellow actors and actresses do not understand those contributions or do not recognize them and attempt to erase them,” she said. “It’s important to recognize who paved that path.” But instead of apologizing, Wilson attempted to justify her claim, responding on Thursday to a tweet that referenced the work of Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique. “Yeah I of course know of these movies but it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technically those actresses were plus size when filming those movies or 2. Technically those films are categorized/billed as a studio rom-com with a sole lead,” she wrote. “So there’s a slight grey area.” In a separate tweet, issued a minute later, she thanked the Twitter user and wrote “I fully take all the comments onboard.” Hey girl! Yeah I of course know of these movies but it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technically those actresses were plus size when filming those movies or 2. Technically those films are catorgorized/billed as a studio rom-com with a sole lead. So there’s a slight grey area— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) November 1, 2018 Wilson’s tweet unleashed a backlash, even drawing a response from Mo’Nique. “Hey my sweet sister,” the Oscar-winning actress wrote over the weekend. “Let’s please not allow this business to erase our talent with giving grey areas and technicalities. Take a moment and know the history. DON’T BE A PART OF ERASING IT. I wish you the best.” Wilson responded saying it was never her “intention to erase anyone else’s achievements,” adding, “I adore you and Queen Latifah so so much . . . I support all plus size ladies and everything positive we are doing together.” Hi Monique, it was never my intention to erase anyone else’s achievements and I adore you and Queen Latifah so so much x I support all plus size ladies and everything positive we are doing together ❤️— Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) November 3, 2018 Many called on Wilson to just “admit you misspoke.” “Just Wright” is rom-com Queen Latifah starred in. And yes by Hollywood AND White standards, she is viewed as plus-sized. It’s okay to admit you misspoke. You are not the first and you will not be the last. pic.twitter.com/YmLdYTaXtD — Clarkisha “Technically Plus-Sized” Kent (@IWriteAllDay_) November 2, 2018 No ma’am, no grey area to see here. Just admit you misspoke— mc “tire da shell” dusanic (@mcdusanic) November 2, 2018 Others quickly pointed out the flaws in Wilson’s explanation. “huh? Queen . . . has been plus size . . . her entire . . . career,” tweeted comedian and author Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey. “Monique . . . has been plus size . . . her. entire. career.” huh? Queen….has been plus size….her entire….career. Monique…has been plus size…her. entire. career.— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) November 2, 2018 Goodnight to everyone EXCEPT Rebel Wilson and anyone who refuses to put some respect on the lived experiences and accomplishments of Fat Black Women.— Blair Imani (@BlairImani) November 4, 2018 Then, as the criticism continued to roll in, Wilson began blocking her critics, prompting the creation of the hashtag “#RebelWilsonBlockedMe.” Twitter users also started noticing a trend among those getting blocked — a majority of them are people of color. That’s nice but Rebel you have blocked NUMEROUS black and non- black POC women who have tried to have he conversation and most commented in the same tone as the one white woman you decided to respond to. That’s a problem.— Kayla Prefers Ham Over Turkey Marie (@Maria_Giesela) November 4, 2018 “Rebel Wilson tryna block more Black folks than voter suppression,” tweeted Brooklyn-based journalist and activist George M. Johnson, who was one of the people blocked. Two days after posting her video, Noor was also blocked. She tweeted that all she had wanted to do was share her “honest & respectful thoughts” with Wilson. Author Jenee Darden told Bustle in an email that she thought Wilson’s issue wasn’t with the criticisms being voiced, but with who was voicing them, “She had a problem with the [messengers] — women of color,” wrote Darden, who was blocked. “She can block every Black woman from here to the deepest parts of Wakanda. She’s still not the first plus-size actress to star in a romantic comedy.” As of early Tuesday morning, a list of those blocked by Wilson created by Clarkisha Kent, a film and pop culture writer, had nearly 40 people on it. Kent told Yahoo Movies UK that the people who were blocked, including herself, were “very gracious and took the time to educate her on why she was incorrect and wrong in her erasure of plus-sized icons Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique — though we didn’t need to.” Trying to imagine a scenario in which Rebel Wilson could handle this worse than she is right now.I’m coming up empty.— Call 866-OUR-VOTE w/ problems (@ReignOfApril) November 4, 2018 Wilson’s Monday apology was met with mixed reactions. Some thanked the actress, while others doubted the apology’s sincerity, one user describing it as reading like “a forced PR apology written by your manager.” “Better late than never,” Kent tweeted.
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