“The Real Housewives of New York’s” Luan de Lesseps offered an apology after she was accused of darkening her skin in the season 10 premiere. The 54-year-old impersonated Diana Ross for a Halloween party and also wore an Afro wig, which one of her cast mates immediately criticized.
“Something’s a little off about Luann’s costume,” said Carole Radziwill during the show. “I think she’s tone-deaf when it comes to cultural stereotypes. She’s generally tone-deaf anyway.”
Bethenny Frankel, another cast mate, didn’t seem as offended as Radziwill and said de Lesseps was brave for wearing the getup.
“Luann’s got the balls of a burglar,” she said. “You’ve gotta give it to her. She gives zero f—ks, well, I take that back.”
Before the episode premiered, de Lesseps stopped by “ET,” and the host Nischelle Turner didn’t let her leave without addressing the controversy.
“There is a moment that I do want to ask you about, as it kind of took me aback,” Turner began. “When you dressed as Diana Ross, and there were people who interpreted that as you had on blackface.”
“I didn’t,” replied de Lesseps. “I had makeup on but not anything that would make me look [like I was in blackface].”
Turner then disagreed, but the reality star insisted she was just doing her own interpretation of the singer and nothing else. de Lesseps also admitted to wearing tanning cream with the costume, but it wasn’t to appear in blackface.
The “ET” host also brought up Radziwill’s criticism, which de Lesseps said she understood but disagreed with.
“[Just] because I didn’t agree with it doesn’t mean I didn’t get it,” she stated. “I was being an impersonator for Halloween.”
“Can you see it from the other side of the coin?” asked Turner.
de Lesseps said that she could, then offered an apology.
“I didn’t mean to offend anyone by being Diana Ross for Halloween. It just didn’t even kind of enter my mind,” she insisted. “I wasn’t at all worried about that, and all of a sudden it became a thing. I’m so sorry. I don’t want it to be a thing, so I apologize if I have offended.”
It was back in November 2017 when the real housewife first received criticism for the makeup and costume after she shared a photo of it on Instagram. Immediately after she was blasted, but some defended her and said no wrongdoings were committed.
de Lesseps was also a guest on a recent episode of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” where she apologized once again but denied trying to appear in blackface.
“I never meant to hurt anybody’s feelings. I love Diana Ross and I totally respect Diana Ross. It was really kind of a tribute to her, and it was Halloween” she stated. “I had bronzer on that I wear normally, like the rest of my skin. I’m tan right now, so I didn’t add anything or try to ever, ever dream of doing a blackface, ever. So I’m very sorry to everyone out there if I ever offended anyone.”
You can see a portion of that interview below, as well as some social media comments.
I would like to clear the air, I love and respect Diana Ross, this was my tribute to her I was showing my sincere admiration. I in no way altered my skin color and I did not mean to offend anyone.
— Luann de Lesseps (@CountessLuann) April 5, 2018
If you haven’t altered your skin colour can you explain why it looked much darker than usual? I’m confused. pic.twitter.com/vFJUe5AMVw
— SM (@LipStainsSM) April 5, 2018
Here we go… it was a costume. Period. Stop the hate, people. There’s so much wrong with our world right now… let’s take it as it was meant… to have fun!
— Maria (@NFW22b) April 5, 2018
In what Century y’all find this okay?? This is wrong!! And as a black personal I’m offended and deeply hurt by you doing this pic.twitter.com/imdvEXylP9
— John (@chamoniIIe) April 5, 2018
Can you explain why she looks completely different and NOT blackface in her scene with Carole? 👀👀👀
— Hustleberry Finn (@thekaptainkevo) April 5, 2018
It’s not about how Diana Ross feels about it. It’s about a history of white people appropriating black bodies and faces for entertainment.
Luann’s intentions don’t matter. What matters are the effects of her actions.
If black people are hurt, would you tell them they’re wrong?
— Stephen Black (@stephenablack) April 5, 2018
When the wayon brothers played white girls in a movie, it’s ok. When a woman, who admired a black singer, dresses in a costume and wig to portray her, and maybe bronze face too much, it’s wrong and racist?
— Pam (@U0079286) April 5, 2018
Considering there isn’t an extensive racist history and the power differentials are in favor of LuAnn… yes, what the Wayans brothers did is fine. What LuAnn did is not fine.
— L u k e (@LWRomes) April 5, 2018