Rodner Figueroa Joins Telemundo, First TV Job Since Michelle Obama Racist Remark Scandal

Rodner Figueroa
After being fired from Univision, Rodner Figueroa reappears in an exclusive interview for "Al Rojo Vivo" with María Celeste Arrarás. The former TV presenter tells everything that happened and his plans for the future. Photo: Screenshot / Al Rojo Vivo / YouTube

Rodner Figueroa has been announced to join Telemundo's "Al Rojo Vivo." The controversial presenter will appear on Maria Celeste Arraras' tabloid show in an unknown capacity. News of the hiring is not a huge surprise to viewers as most Univision talent end up on Telemundo eventually. Also, the former "Sal y Pimienta" host appeared on the show earlier this year to tell his side of the story from the unfortunate events that led to his firing. This would mark the return of Figueroa to Spanish-language after his racist remarks (back in 2015) about Michelle Obama, comparing her to a character from "Planet of the Apes."

After the horrible comparison Figueroa made about the former FLOTUS, Univision released a statement to confirm his firing. “Yesterday during our entertainment program ‘El Gordo y La Flaca,’ Rodner Figueroa made comments regarding First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect Univision's values or views. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was immediately terminated," the statement read.

Following his axing, Rodner Figueroa publicly apologized to the First Lady in an open letter. "I offer my sincerest apologies for a comment that I made about the characterization a make-up artist made about you in the Univision entertainment program 'El Gordo y La Flaca,'" the letter read. "I want to make it clear that I'm not racist and my comment wasn't directed personally to you, but to the characterization of the artist, that left a lot to be desired. The clip in full context is proof."

He added, "I feel embarrassed, I ask for forgiveness, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to make those types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in a volatile moment that we live in our country. I take full responsibility for the lack of judgement in my part, but I can't accept that I am being called a racist, being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years. I come from a bi-racial Latin family, with family members, like my father, who is Afro-Latino. I am the first presenter on Hispanic TV that is openly gay and I am an activist for causes that favor minorities that have been discriminated against just like me. I openly voted twice for your husband Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man that respects minorities, like me, in this country."

"I worked on two Univision shows where I commented about celebrity style and looks, including the Royal Family and Latin first ladies, and I have never offended anybody because of their skin color, sexual orientation or nationality. I am a decent person, but I'm a human that makes mistakes like this one. Although the comment was unpleasant and out of line, I do not deserved being called a racist and I have to defend myself for respect and love to my family, my father, my fans and my community. I was notified verbally that due to a complaint from your office I was fired. And thanks to an information leak from Univision executives, I was condemned on social media, destroying my career in an unfair manner, without letting me know personally and without an investigation that would allow to clear up the situation. Again, I offer my humble forgiveness for the misinterpretation and I assume the responsibility."

What do you think?

Armando Tinoco is an Orange County-based writer with a degree in Marketing from Cal. State Fullerton and a degree in Graphic Design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. In addition to reporting for Latin Times and when he is not watching Brazilian and Mexican telenovelas or quoting lines from "Clueless" and "Friends" he is brushing up his skills in CSS and responsive website design. Some of his celebrity idols include Eiza Gonzalez, Paulina Rubio and Amanda Bynes.