John Legend Responds to Paparazzo Who Called Him a ‘Monkey’: ‘I Look Down on That Person’

John Legend
Executive producer John Legend of "Underground" attends The IMDb Studio featuring the Filmmaker Discovery Lounge, presented by Amazon Video Direct: Day Two during The 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah.  Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. John Legend opened up in a new interview about his run-in with a paparazzo who called him a "monkey."

As Us Weekly previously reported, a paparazzo verbally harassed the "Love Me Now" singer, 38, after he and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, touched down at New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport on Thursday, January 19. Teigen, 31, blasted the photographer on Twitter, saying, "Paparazzi at JFK just asked me 'if we evolved from monkeys, why is John Legend still around?' … Also, John is right next to me. The balls."

Two days later, Legend responded to the incident while at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. "We were right next to each other and we looked at each other like, 'Did he really just say that?'" the La La Land star recalled to Variety on Saturday, January 21. "And he really said it. He basically called me a monkey."

"Black folks have had to deal with being called monkeys for a long time, and dehumanization has always been kind of a method of racism and subjugation of black people and that's just part of American history — and it's part of the present, apparently," continued Legend, in Sundance to promote Underground, which he executive produced. "We saw with the former president, [Barack] Obama, whenever people wanted to discount him or discount his wife, they compared them to apes. And we've seen that frequently. I'm not hurt by someone saying that to me because I'm smarter, I'm stronger. I look down on that person that would say something like that. But it's a shame that it still exists."

Teigen told fans the paparazzo also made an anti-Semitic remark, though Legend didn't address that particular comment. "He also went from 'what's an easy recipe to make at home' to 'if a Jew were a vampire, would he still be afraid of crosses?'" the Cravings cookbook author tweeted on Thursday.

"Guess we'll find him when he puts the video out," she added. "That he edits the s–t out of since he didn't get clocked."

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