The Most Pathetically Insincere Celebrity Apologies

This article contains references to sexual misconduct, racism, eating disorders, and homophobic slurs.

Countless celebrities have had to issue apologies for their behavior. When stars mess up, fans expect stars to own up to their mistakes and give a sincere apology, hoping they'll do better. However, more and more celebrity apologies have begun to sound insincere. In 2019, for example, "Jane the Virgin" star Gina Rodriguez filmed herself singing along to The Fugees' "Ready or Not" on Instagram (via Daily Mail). When she was captured warbling a racial slur included with the lyrics, she was called out for it and later apologized –  or should we say, gave a "sorry, not sorry" apology?

The star addressed the controversy on her Instagram Stories (via Vox), where she told fans, "I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees — to a song I love — that I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill, and I really am sorry if I offended you." She later issued a second apology on Instagram which came across slightly more from the heart, but as Vox explained, it was too little too late for some. 

Sometimes celebrities just don't sound remorseful for their wrongdoings. And in a world where a star can be canceled in a second, fans want a heartfelt apology and not one that was written by a celebrity's PR team that ultimately makes them sound tone-deaf. Unfortunately, too many celebrities believe they could get away with their pathetically insincere apologies, with the stars below being experts in such things. 

Paula Deen

In June 2013, celebrity chef, Paula Deen, fell from grace when she admitted to using racial slurs after she was sued by former employee Lisa Jackson for racial discrimination in June 2013. Although a judge dismissed Jackson's suit, the cookery star faced continued backlash when more racist comments and behavior were dug up from her past. Deen was dropped by the Food Network, which broadcasted her show, "Paula's Home Cooking." Per Fox News, various contracts she held with QVC, Target, Walmart, and "Ballantine Books" were either paused or canceled outright. 

Following the fallout, Deen appeared on "Today." There, host Matt Lauer asked her if she would have fired herself from the Food Network. She replied, "No ... I am so very thankful for the partners I have who believe in me." During her apology attempt, the chef stated outright that she was not racist, and also insisted she only used the racial slur once when a Black man had held her up at gunpoint, 30 years prior. She added that she was unsure whether her use of the pejorative term was offensive toward Black people. She argued, "It is very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other."

To top it all off, not once did Deen utter the words "I'm sorry" in the 13-minute interview. Instead, she told Lauer. "I'm ... heartbroken. I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed."

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Demi Lovato

In April 2021, Demi Lovato expressed her frustration with a Los Angeles-based yogurt shop called The Bigg Chill for using phrases like "sugar-free cookies" in their marketing. Believing such terminology glorifies disordered eating, the star — who has openly discussed having an eating disorder — blasted the company on her Instagram Stories (via People) with the hashtag "diet culture vultures." She also shared screenshots of private messages with the brand where she stated it was triggering to walk into their shop due to their messaging. 

Per People, Lovato's published DM's indicated that the shop had responded to her. Defending their choice of language, they'd written, "We carry items for Diabetics, Celiac disease, Vegan and of course have many indulgent items as well." BuzzFeed reported that some people were not happy with Lovato bashing a small business and that those with diabetes were happy to see a store carrying sugar-free options.

On Instagram (via NBC News), the star eventually backtracked and apologized for misinterpreting the signs at the store. She added that she would have felt better had they instead been specifically labeled for dietary needs. "But I'm not coming after a small business as someone with a lot of followers, that's not what I'm doing here," she insisted. "I walked into a situation that didn't sit right with me. My intuition said speak up about this, so I did. And I feel good about that." People reported that The Bigg Chill did not respond to Lovato's statement. 

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Erica Pelosini

Italian model Erica Pelosini shared a lousy apology when she was photographed topless on a boat with Princess Eugenie's husband, Jack Brooksbank in August 2021. Published by the Daily Mail, the star's apology came across as insincere when she made some dubious statements of remorse, such as saying, "I usually never go topless, but my bikini got wet and I decided to take it off."

Pelosini, Brooksbank, and two other female companions were spotted together off the Italian island of Capri, for what she suggested was a platonic and professional trip — with some half-naked elements. "I know it does not look right for Jack and his family. I felt very bad for them when I saw images of him surrounded by three women because his wife was not there," she said. The daughter of Prince Andrew married Brooksbank in October 2018, and the couple welcomed a son named August in February 2021. Although Pelosini issued an apology to the couple, she also made a baffling statement regarding how Eugenie should feel about the pictures, saying, "If that was me who gave birth five months ago and I saw my husband enjoying himself in the sun I would be happy for him." 

There didn't appear to be any word from the royal family member about her husband's outing. However, Eugenie's mom, Sarah Ferguson, defended her son-in-law on "The One Show" (via E!) stating he was simply doing his job. As of August 2022, the couple was still married.

Hannah Brown

In May 2020, Hannah Brown, who is known for being Season 15's "The Bachelorette," angered fans when she was seen on Instagram Live (via Glamour) using a racial slur while singing along to rapper DaBaby's song "Rockstar." She only found herself in more hot water when she denied having used the slur. During an apology video, she could be seen giggling and deflecting the blame onto her brother.  

When fans pushed her for an apology for using the offensive term, she insisted, "We don't say that word ... So, you know, I'm going to stay here, and ya'll can think I said whatever I did or think I'm something I'm not, but I'm not that ... And if I accidentally said it, I'm very sorry, I was singing a song and not even thinking."  Still, her apology fell short and a few hours later, she acknowledged that she had used the slur on her Instagram Stories (via CNN). In a statement, she wrote, "I owe you all a major apology ... I am terribly sorry and know that whether in public or private, this language is unacceptable. I promise to do better."

According to USA Today, a month later Brown returned to Instagram Stories to share an 18-minute video reiterating her intentions. "I don't want to be an ignorant white girl who uses the N-word," she said. "... I've learned that I have to take a lot of responsibility and accountability for my actions."

Vanessa Hudgens

In the same month that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, actor Vanessa Hudgens came off as tone-deaf and insensitive when she questioned the severity of the virus. Covid cases were surging in the U.S. and across the globe, so the former Disney starlet's comments weren't exactly appreciated by her fans during the distressing time. 

On Instagram Stories (via Los Angeles Times), Hudgens griped about the proposed duration of quarantine, before adding, "Even if everybody gets [Covid-19], like yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible, but inevitable?" After receiving significant backlash for the statements, the "High School Musical" star soon posted an apology video that didn't sound all that apologetic. According to Hudgens, her words had been picked up and misreported by the media. "It's a crazy, crazy time," she said. "And I am at home and on lockdown and that's what I hope you guys are doing too."

Still, Hudgens later re-evaluated her apology. In a note shared on Twitter, the star acknowledged that her initial statement was crass and poorly timed. "This has been a huge wake-up call about the significance my words have," she wrote, before imploring her fans to stay safe. 

Cardi B

Cardi B was seemingly another celebrity who appeared to not quite grasp the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic when she hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in her home. In November 2020, the rapper took to Twitter to share the news of her ill-advised celebration, writing, "12 kids and 25 adults over the holidays. It was lit!!" According to The New York Times, cases of the virus surged to four million during that month, which was more than double the cases the previous month. While the rapper may have had loads of fun with her family and friends, most people across the world had to spend the holidays away from their loved ones that yearduring the lockdown.

After receiving backlash for her grand Thanksgiving dinner, the "WAP" artist returned to Twitter to apologize. "Sorry ... wasn't trying to make nobody feel bad. I just had my family in my home for the first time and it felt so good & uplifted me," she wrote. "I spent soo much money getting every1 tested but it felt worth it. I wasn't trying to offend no1."

According to People, some Twitter users refused to accept the apology and criticized the star for bragging about her wealth while others were taking precautions against the virus. Cardi B saw the swarm of displeased fans commenting on her posts and tweeted in response, "People be trying tooo hard to be offended. I wonder how they survive the real world."

Tyler Joseph

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013. However, it quickly became a worldwide movement that has also inspired countless celebrities to use their platform with which to speak out on issues including police brutality, systematic racism, and racial injustice. When fans urged Twenty One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph to use his platform to speak out about the importance of Black Lives Matter, he instead stunned fans with an insensitive joke on Twitter.

According to Page Six, in September 2020, Joseph tweeted a photo of himself wearing platform shoes with an accompanying comment that read, "You guys keep asking me to use my platforms. Feels good to dust these bad boys off." Despite the instant backlash he received for the post, the performer seemed intent on not apologizing for it or removing it. "This isn't a notes app moment," he tweeted (via ET). "I'm doubling down on my platform tweet. It was fantastic."

A day later, he relented and said sorry for the post. "My tweet wasn't supposed to be about human rights. So in case you are wondering where I stand: Black Lives Matter," he wrote on Twitter and shared links to organizations and donation sites in support of the movement.

Doja Cat

There's always someone who will go the extra mile to dig up dirt on a celeb and there's no better place to start than with Twitter. Tons of celebrities have been forced to apologize for old offensive tweets that have resurfaced and have come back to haunt them. In 2018, Doja Cat, whose real name is Amala Dlamini, was one of these stars when an old tweet showed her using a homophobic slur (via Complex). However, instead of apologizing, she gave an extremely bizarre explanation for using the word. 

In a since-deleted tweet, Doja's excuse for using the slur read, "I called a couple people f***ots when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don't deserve support? I've said f***ots roughly like 15 thousand times in my life. Does saying f***ot mean you hate gay people? Do I hate gay people? I don't think I hate gay people. Gay is ok." Confusing? Yes. An apology? Not so much. 

According to Buzzfeed News, Doja followed up with an apology (which has also since been deleted) that read, "I've used horrible derogatory and hateful words towards people out of ignorance." She added that she didn't want for anyone to look up to her as a role model. 

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Mario Batali

In 2017, celebrity chef Mario Batali was accused of inappropriate sexual misconduct by four women, three of them having worked for the chef in the past. The restaurant news site Eater published an expose that stated Batali was stepping down from the daily management of his restaurant empire following the allegations. Four more women stepped forward the following day to accuse him of sexual misconduct. Batali didn't deny the accusations. As part of a longer statement shared with Eater, he said, "Much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted."

In an email newsletter, Batali apologized for his actions but ended with a recipe that made his remorse sound insincere. "My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility,"  Batali stated in the email. "... I will work every day to regain your respect and your trust." For a tone-deaf footnote, he added, "p.s. in case you're searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite."

According to Forbes, Batali settled the sexual harassment cases in July 2021 for $600,000. A year later, he was found not guilty in a Boston sexual misconduct case that stemmed from 2017 after a judge found that the accuser did not present credible evidence, per 10 Boston. Since the accusations, Batali was fired from ABC's "The Chew" and gave up his restaurants, with the celebrity chef's partner's buying out his stakes in the business. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Kristen Stewart

In July 2012, Kristen Stewart was labeled a homewrecker when Us Weekly published photographs that showed the actor kissing and cuddling her "Snow White and the Huntsman" director Rupert Sanders. Both were in relationships at the time, with the former dating her "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson, and the director married to model, Liberty Ross, who so happened to star as Stewart's character's mother in the film. 

In a statement published by People, Sanders apologized to his wife and their two children. A year later Ross filed for divorce from him and was awarded millions from their divorce settlement. Stewart, on the other hand, used her apology to profess her love to Pattinson after the scandal broke. In a statement shared by the Los Angeles Times, she said, "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry."

Sadly, Stewart's infidelity caused "Robsten" to break up after dating for nearly four years. According to Pattinson, the cheating wasn't the hardest part of their split, telling Esquire UK (via People), "The hardest part was talking about it afterward. Because when you talk about other people, it affects them in ways you can't predict." 

Lea Michele

In a since-deleted post from 2020 (via Us Weekly), Lea Michele shared her support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter. In response, her former "Glee" co-star Samantha Marie Ware wrote, in all caps, ""Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! ... I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would 's*** in my wig!' amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood. " 

Following Ware's accusations, other "Glee" stars showed their solidarity and support. On Twitter, Heather Morris agreed that her former co-star wasn't nice to work with, while Yvette Nicole Brown, who starred in "The Mayor" alongside Michele, responded to Ware's tweet by stating, "I felt every one of those capital letters," along with a raised fist emoji. Alex Newell agreed, replying, "Felt like claps!!"

On Instagram, Michele shared an apology that didn't sound all that sorry. Stating how the Black Lives Matter movement had made people more attentive to the perspectives and experiences of others, she highlighted the importance of acknowledging injustices, and added, "The responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow castmates was perceived by them." Ware wasn't impressed. "All that her apology did was affirm that she hasn't learned anything," she told Variety. "I think Lea suffers from a symptom of living in this world in an industry that is tailored to white people."

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres' "be kind" mantra was shattered when it was alleged that "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" was a toxic workplace and that the host herself was not so friendly. In July 2020, BuzzFeed News shared accusations from anonymous former and current employees who suggested that they'd dealt with racism and microaggressions. Some accused executive producers of harassment and claimed that DeGeneres could be demeaning to staff members. A workplace investigation was swiftly launched by WarnerMedia, thereafter. A month later three executive producers were fired.

In September 2020, DeGeneres addressed the allegations during the first episode of Season 18. However, her apology received mixed reviews. For starters, she opened her monologue with sarcasm, stating, "How was everybody's summer? Good? Mine was great!" On top of being laced with jokes throughout, the speech also suggested that DeGeneres had it hard being known as the "be kind" lady, and living up to her nickname. "The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV," she said. "I'm also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress."

According to BuzzFeed, former employees didn't find her apology helpful. One shared, "Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her." DeGeneres' talk show ended after 19 seasons with the final episode having aired in May 2022. 

Shia LaBeouf

In 2013, Shia LaBeouf found himself on the hot seat when he released his short film "HowardCantour.com." Upon release online, some eagle-eyed viewers realized that the "Transformers" star had plagiarized many elements of the film from Daniel Clowes' 2007 comic "Justin M. Damiano." The similarities between the two are apparently so notable that Wired reported how much of the dialogue and narration in the film appeared to have been used verbatim from the comic, with only character names changed.

Understandably, the "Ghost World" author wasn't too happy. "I've never seen one of his films that I can recall," he told BuzzFeed. "And I was shocked, to say the least when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work."

LaBoeuf posted a vague apology on Twitter where he argued that making something after being inspired by someone else's work was a creative endeavor. The only problem was that this tweet was apparently also plagiarized from a Yahoo! Answers post written years prior. He went on to tweet, "I'm embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novel Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration." LaBoeuf ended his apology thread by stating, "I f***ed up," before removing the short film from his website.

Justin Timberlake

In 2021, Justin Timberlake apologized to his ex Britney Spears. The attempt to make amends arrived after the New York Times documentary, "Framing Britney Spears," showcased how the "Toxic" singer was depicted as a villain when she and the former *NSYNC singer broke up. Timberlake, on the other hand, appeared to profit from the split, even casting a Spears look-a-like as a cheater in the music video for "Cry Me A River."

Also included in his apology was Janet Jackson. Addressing the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show incident, in which he ripped off part of her costume and exposed her breast, the singer stated how he should have stood up for her. As noted by The New York Times, the incident resulted in Jackson taking the brunt of the apparent scandal while Timberlake appeared to thrive, untarnished. His initial apology was hardly an apology in and of itself. While accepting a Grammy award, the singer stated (via CNN), "What occurred was unintentional and completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended."

Decades later, he conceded that he could have done better. On Instagram, he wrote, "[I] benefitted from a system that that condones misogyny and racism. I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed." Response to his post was mixed with outlets like W magazine arguing that both artists were each worthy of an individual and less vague apology.