SNL's Jimmy Fallon Responded To Backlash Over Blackface Impersonation Of Chris Rock

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Saturday Night Live veteran Jimmy Fallon has addressed a controversial decision he made for a sketch while still part of the NBC comedy show, in which he impersonated fellow comedian Chris Rock. Fallon wore blackface to impersonate Rock, and he has now taken to social media to comment on what he did:

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 posted his apology for his blackface impersonation of Chris Rock on Twitter on May 26. Rock himself was part of the Saturday Night Live cast back in the early 1990s. According to Fallon, his blackface impersonation of Rock took place in 2000, and he acknowledges that it was a "terrible decision." In the original sketch, Fallon played Rock as a guest on a talk show hosted by Regis Philbin, played by Darrell Hammond.

Although the impersonation happened on Saturday Night Live 20 years before Jimmy Fallon made his apology, the clip resurfaced and has created quite the controversy, especially in light of the Megyn Kelly firing on NBC after some comments on the use of blackface. Saturday Night Live is an NBC mainstay, and Fallon currently hosts NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, although his show has been produced from home in recent weeks.

Jimmy Fallon's apology hit the web hours after #jimmyfallonisoverparty started trending on Twitter, and some on the social media platform are calling for Fallon to be ousted from NBC a la Megyn Kelly, while others are commenting that something that happened 20 years ago and has since been apologized for shouldn't be held against him in 2020.

This isn't the first time that a celebrity wearing blackface has attracted attention this year, after Tropic Thunder's Robert Downey Jr. addressed his decision to play a character who adopted blackface for an entire movie. In Tropic Thunder, he was playing a character who was an over-the-top method actor rather than playing it straight, and his career seemingly hasn't been damaged by Kirk Lazarus.

To contrast in years past, comedian Sarah Silverman has stated that she was fired from a movie due to her use of blackface on her TV show, and an Ink Master star left his show after old photos of him resurfaced online. Reality star Kim Kardashian has faced (and responded to) allegations of blackface, and popular Dancing with the Stars dancer Julianne Hough faced heat back in 2013 for playing the Orange Is the New Black character known as Crazy Eyes in blackface.

Only time will tell if the controversy surrounding Jimmy Fallon impersonating Chris Rock in blackface on SNL back in 2000 will continue or die down now that he has apologized. Rock himself hasn't commented on social media. For what you can watch now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV and movie news.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).