Jimmy Kimmel's Blackface Controversy Resurfaces Ahead of 2023 Oscars

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Mar. 10 2023, Published 4:55 p.m. ET

Jimmy Kimmel
Source: Getty Images

This is not a drill — Hollywood's biggest night is just around the corner! While many cinephiles are currently preparing to cheer on their favorite performers at the 95th Academy Awards, others are intent on destroying host Jimmy Kimmel's reputation.

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Ahead of his hosting the 2023 awards ceremony, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! star and executive producer is facing immense scrutiny on social media. You may be wondering, "Why? What happened?" Well, several old clips of the comedian, who's outspoken about his political views, have resurfaced online in which he's performing in blackface. If you're expecting him to apologize, don't bother — Jimmy Kimmel has been down this road before. Keep reading for all the known details.

jimmy kimmel blackface apology
Source: Getty Images
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Jimmy Kimmel previously apologized for performing in blackface.

In June 2020, the late-night host and producer issued an apology and announced he would take the summer off amid a blackface controversy, after several old videos surfaced on social media of Jimmy using racial slurs in a music video and impersonating various Black celebrities via blackface on The Man 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," he said in a statement, per CNN. "That delay was a mistake. 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."

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Jimmy explained, "On KROQ radio in the mid-'90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone," adding that he "continued impersonating Malone on TV" in the late '90s.

"We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible," the comedian added. "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."

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The award-winning host continued, "I've done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more."

"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 said.

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Jimmy concluded, "I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last 20-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. ... I won't be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas."

Despite renewed interest in his blackface controversy, it seems Jimmy isn't letting it get to him. He hasn't addressed the situation since June 2020, and it appears he is moving forward and not willing to discuss it further.

Tune in to see Jimmy host the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 12, at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

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