Lara Spencer Says She's 'Deeply Sorry' for 'Stupid' Ballet Comments in On-Air GMA Apology
"I screwed up," Lara Spencer said on Monday's Good Morning America.
The Good Morning America anchor, 50, came under fire last Thursday after teasing the young royal about his love for ballet on the ABC morning show, laughing at the inclusion of the classical dance classes in his hectic school curriculum.
“Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet. I have news for you Prince William: We’ll see how long that lasts,” she quipped.
Backlash quickly spread among prominent members of the arts community, leading Spencer to issue an apology on Instagram Friday. And on Monday, she said she was sorry again, this time in an extensive GMA segment.
“I screwed up. I did,” Spencer confessed to viewers. “The comment I made about dance was insensitive, it was stupid, and I am deeply sorry.”
Spencer went on to explain that she used her blunder as a teachable moment. “I’ve spoken with several members of the dance community over the past few days,” she said. “I have listened. I have learned about the bravery it takes for a young boy to pursue a career in dance.”
“For me, the lesson is that words hurt. It was not my intention but it was insensitive. … Just let people follow their dream, whether it’s dance, whatever it is.”
To help explain more, GMA aired Spencer’s conversation with three influential dancers who have fought against the stigma firsthand.
“I can’t tell you how much that hurts,” said Cats star and Tony-nominee Robbie Fairchild, recalling the childhood teasing he experienced when taking ballet classes in middle school.
“I want more boys to dance,” said So You Think You Can Dance‘s two-time Emmy-winning choreographer Travis Wall. “We make such beautiful art and we create such beautiful moments in this world. And I wish the world would dance more.”
Fabrice Calmels, principal dancer at the Joffrey Ballet, agreed.
“I just wish people would be more open-minded and understand what others are doing,” he said. “More empathy would be lovely. I teach young kids, and boys — they just drop, because of the social stigma around the form. Children should be entitled to experience things without the bullying.”
All three encouraged young boys interested in dance to look up to role models like Singin’ in the Rain star Gene Kelly to help them through the tough times.
They also accepted Spencer’s apology. “I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to apologize personally to you,” she told them. “And for you guys coming in here to sit and talk to me and to educate me. And again, I’m really sorry.”
“I think it’s really important to take this as a lesson to learn that there are things that I don’t understand that maybe I should to learn to appreciate it more for what it is,” Fairchild, who will star in the big-screen adaptation of Cats, told Spencer. “We are community of love and in order for us to move forward, we have to move forward together.”
In Spencer’s initial apology on Instagram, she encouraged viewers to follow their passion.
“My deepest apologies for an insensitive comment I made during pop news on Thursday,” she wrote. “From ballet, which I took as a kid, to anything in life you wish to explore, I fully believe we should all pursue our passion. Go climb your mountain and love every minute of it.”
Even after she apologized, many celebrities continued to call Spencer out, including SYTYCD creator Nigel Lythgoe.
“Lara I hope you now understand the problems that so many young men have faced as a thoughtless community laughs at them for wanting to dance,” he wrote in a long thread on Twitter. “I see so many young men heartbroken because they’ve been thrown out of their homes by their ignorant parents. We are better than that. Those of us with the platform of entering peoples homes have a duty to educate and inform. Both Dancing With The Stars and my own show SYTYCD have fought the stigma that has been built up over the years by a homophobic, narrow-minded society. Neither of my two boys wanted to dance. My 4 year-old grandson, Leo, loves to do ‘ballet’ with the girls. It makes me smile to see how much he loves it. I hope he’s never made to feel uncomfortable if he wishes to continue into adulthood.”
Patricia Ward Kelly, Kelly’s widow, also penned an open letter about the issue.
“In 1958, my late husband, the dancer, director, choreographer Gene Kelly, decided to take on the stigma facing male dancers in an Omnibus television program for NBC that he created and starred in called Dancing, A Man’s Game,” she wrote. “Gene would be devastated to know that 61 years after his ground-breaking work, the issue of boys and men dancing is still the subject of ridicule—and on a national network.”
She concluded: “ABC must do better.”