US late night TV host Jimmy Fallon has apologised for wearing blackface during a Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch 20 years ago.
NBC’s Tonight Show star can be seen with dark make-up in the scene, where he portrayed fellow comedian and SNL cast member Chris Rock appearing on a talk show.
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.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) May 26, 2020
Fallon tweeted: “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.”
Fallon appeared on SNL from 1998 until 2004, when he left the show to pursue a movie career, appearing in several films – including alongside Drew Barrymore in comedy Fever Pitch in 2005.
He later became the sixth permanent host of The Tonight Show in 2014.
Reports that such a clip existed first emerged in the US media in February 2019, and on Tuesday, the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty began trending on Twitter.
It is not the first time a white SNL star has been cast in a black role on the show.
In 1984, actor Billy Crystal portrayed Sammy Davis Jr, and more recently, Fred Armisen impersonated former US president Barack Obama.
Robert Downey Jr and comedian Sarah Silverman have also been criticised for wearing blackface, while Fallon’s fellow late night host Jimmy Kimmel has also come under fire for wearing make-up to impersonate Oprah Winfrey.
Last September, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau apologised for dressing up in blackface for a party in the 1990s, saying “the layers of privilege” he has benefited from meant he did not see that it was racist.
He made a statement following the release of images of him doing it on two other occasions, which nearly saw his re-election campaign derailed.