LONDON (Reuters) – Billie Eilish has apologised after a video surfaced appearing to show the American singer mouthing a racial slur and putting on accents.
In a statement posted on Instagram, the multiple Grammy Award winner said she was “appalled and embarrassed” by the edit, which she said was from when she was 13 or 14 years old and in which she can be seen mouthing the slur.
“I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word,” Eilish, now 19, said.
“This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family. Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact is that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”
A compilation video shared on TikTok this month also showed another clip which Eilish said was her speaking in a “silly gibberish made up voice”, something she said she had done since childhood when talking to “pets, friends, and family”.
“It … is in no way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the slightest,” she said.
“Anyone who knows me has seen me goofing around with voices my whole life. Regardless of how it was interpreted I did not mean for any of my actions to have caused hurt to others.”
Following a spate of attacks on Asian Americans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. President Joe Biden last month signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
“I’m being labelled something that I am not,” Eilish said, adding that she was addressing the video clip after fans had asked her to respond.
“I … have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality.”
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mike Collett-White)