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Despite apology, Colgate breaks ties with Rodner Figueroa

The Colgate Optic White brand announced it would break ties with spokesman and former television host Rodner Figueroa. (Photo Rodner Figueroa Whosay)

The Colgate Optic White brand announced it would break ties with spokesman and former television host Rodner Figueroa. (Photo Rodner Figueroa Whosay)

Emmy award winning Venezuelan host Rodner Figueroa hasn’t had an easy last couple of days, to say the least. First, he was fired by the Univision network, his employer of almost two decades, for making a remark about first lady Michelle Obama that they classified as “racist” and “unacceptable”.

And then, despite penning an open letter of apology less than 24 hours afterward directly asking Michelle Obama for forgiveness in regards to his comment during a live taping of “El Gordo y la Flaca”, in which he compared her to a “Planet of the Apes” cast member, his commercial contract with toothpaste company, Colgate, is also over.

SEE ALSO: Unvision fires Rodner Figueroa after racist comments about Michelle Obama

“Due to his offensive remarks, [Rodner] no longer serves as a representative of Colgate Optic White,” read a statement posted on the company’s official Twitter account. Before the scandal involving Rodner’s comment about Michelle Obama broke out on social media, Figueroa had been working with Colgate on a special “surprise” which would air on the channel’s “Nuestra Belleza Latina” program.

Rodner Figueroa will no longer appear in Colgate commercials

Rodner Figueroa will no longer represent Colgate Optic White or appear in their television commercials aimed at the Hispanic market. Here he’s pictured with bachata singer Leslie Gracie, who is also a brand ambassador for Colgate. (Rodner Figueroa Whosay)

Whether the segment, which was scheduled to air on Sunday night, will also be given the ax or not is still up in the air. The Colgate brand also didn’t mention if the commercials featuring Rodner Figueroa which were already appearing regularly on television will also be pulled and didn’t specify how much longer these will continue to air otherwise.

In his open letter to the first lady, Rodner Figueroa, made it clear to her that he believes his “comment was taken out of context” and said: “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.”

However, “El Fashionista”, expressed his displeasure with the way that his former employer, Univision, handled the entire situation saying that Univision had “publicly humiliated” him and had not given him a chance to share his side of the story.

“El Gordo y la Flaca” hosts Lili Estefan and Raul de Molina have supported Rodner from the very beginning of his fall out with the Univision Network and have voiced their opinions about Rodner saying that they in no way consider him a racist and that they strongly believe there were no racist undertones to his commentary.

The former “Sal y Mienta” host also noted that his termination from Univision was a direct result of a complaint made to the network by the first lady’s office.

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In defense of Figueroa, Estefan went as far as to say: “For those of you who might not know this, Rodner’s father is black.” Rodner Figueroa made a note of this himself mentioning his biracial family in his letter to Michelle Obama. He also told her that he voted for her husband, President Barack Obama, in both of his campaigns and reiterated the fact that he’s “not racist” and has been an activist for minority rights for many years.

Figueroa’s “Planet of the Apes” comment took place during an analysis of images posted on Instagram by make-up artist Paolo Ballesteros, in which he transforms himself into different female celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Julia Roberts and of course included First Lady Michelle Obama as well.

Upon reviewing the photo of Ballesteros made up to look like Michelle Obama with a photo directly beside it of the first lady, Figueroa said: “Mind you, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s part of the cast of “Planet of the Apes,” the film.” The comment was welcomed in the studio mainly with laughter. However, host Raul De Molina added, “I think she’s a very attractive woman,” to which Figueroa responded, “Raul, what’s the problem?”

Rodner Figueroa's contract with Colgate came to an end.

Rodner Figueroa promoted Colgate Optic White on Unvision’s “Nuestra Belleza Latina” alongside bachata singer, Leslie Grace. (Rodner Figueroa Whosay)



Daysi Calavia-Robertson has a BA in Mass Communications from Florida International University. Her articles have appeared in The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, The Sun-Sentinel, The South Florida Times and The Huffington Post. She's also conducted entertainment reporting segments on local television. No matter what the medium, Daysi believes in the power of storytelling.

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