Fired TV critic: ‘Apes’ comment directed at Paolo Ballesteros, not Michelle Obama
Just an update: Rodner Figueroa is still out of the job.

And an innocent Paolo Ballesteros, whose only crime was to make constant transformations of himself into female American celebrities and pop icons in pictures he uploads to his Instagram account, was the unwitting “accomplice.”

But blame it mainly on the Spanish TV critic’s brash, uncouth and brazen mouth—unspeakably uncontrollable in what is supposed to be a medium of prudent minds, or at least some objectivity.

The object of Figueroa’s attack that led to his firing as a presenter in Univision, the largest Spanish language television network, was this particular post made by Ballesteros in November last year:

A photo posted by @pochoy_29 on

This was the hot on-air topic in a show that discussed makeup transformations wherein Figueroa was the critic. It brought up that post showing Paolo’s transformation into Michelle Obama wherein Figueroa was to give his reaction. Figueroa flatly said: “Michelle Obama looks like a cast member of Planet of the Apes.” This led to a firestorm that eventually reached the First Lady’s office, which complained to the network. He lost his job instantly for what was viewed as “racism.”

In the end, Figueroa apologized in a letter addressed to Michelle Obama and explained, “I want to clarify that I’m not racist and in no way was my comment directed at you, but rather the work of the (make up) artist, which left much to be desired.” 

Yes, maybe Paolo’s work was not perfect, but Figueroa could have said, “The make-up artist made Michelle Obama look bad.” Despite his clarification and apologies, Figueroa should know more about racial sensitivity or even learn how to construct a sentence.