It seems like Rebel Wilson needs a lesson about doing your homework—and social media is ready to be her teacher.
The 38-year-old Pitch Perfect star stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week to promote her new film with Liam Hemsworth, Isn't It Romantic. While the movie doesn't hit theaters until Valentine's Day 2019, it's officially set off a Twitter firestorm—and not because of Hemsworth's handsome stare.
During her appearance, Wilson told DeGeneres: "I’m proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy," Wilson said.
Cue the sound of tire breaks.
Quite simply, Wilson is wrong, and Twitter, of course, didn't hesitate to call out the inaccuracy of her statement. Fans reminded Wilson of two plus-size Black women who actually starred in romantic comedies before her: Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique.
"I love @RebelWilson as much as the next girl, but she isn’t the first plus sized woman to play the lead in a romantic comedy," the tweet read. "Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique have both played romcom leads." So far, it has more than 3,000 likes.
I love @RebelWilson as much as the next girl, but she isn’t the first plus sized woman to play the lead in a romantic comedy. Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique have both played romcom leads 🤔 https://t.co/l2uEpwvcsF
— Halfapintdoll (@Halfapintdoll) November 1, 2018
And Latifah and Mo'Nique aren't the only ones Wilson overlooked in her headline-making assertion. Former talk show host Ricki Lake was cast as the lead in the 1989 movie Babycakes, and Loretta Devine memorably sashayed her way into late tap dancer Gregory Hines's heart in the 1995 film Waiting to Exhale.
As if Wilson's initial comments weren't enough, she later responded to the above tweet to further elaborate on her statement...with no apology included.
"Yeah I of course know of these movies but it was questionable as to whether: 1. Technically those actresses were plus size when filming those movies or 2. Technically those films are catorgorized [sic]/billed as a studio rom-com with a sole lead. So there’s a slight grey area."
Except there isn't a "grey area," Wilson.
By Hollywood's standards—and how both Latifah and Mo'Nique have self-identified in the past—they were considered plus-size when starring in those films.Even as recently as 2013, Mo'Nique still referred to herself as a "big" woman.
Furthermore, what makes Isn't It Romantic any different from Babycakes, Waiting to Exhale, Just Wright, The Last Holiday, and the on-the-nose Phat Girlz? Aren't they all shrouded in comedy, romance, friendship, and heartbreak—all of which are the basic ingredients that make up a rom-com? Not to mention those movies are all "categorized" as romantic comedies by their studios.
That Wilson doubled down on her original statement begs a larger conversation about the representation of all shapes and sizes in film.
There's also another elephant in the room: how Black women are viewed by mainstream media in romantic comedies. Films like The Best Man or Love Jones are often relegated to "urban movies" for a specific community, as opposed to just being rom-coms for anyone's enjoyment. But that's an opinion piece in and of itself for another day.
Like Wilson did, it's important to acknowledge that Hollywood could do a better job of casting more plus-size women as romantic leads. However, we can't just ignore those who came before her—the trailblazers who made it possible for Wilson to score big at the box office thanks to her star-turning role.
So this week, we'll be watching Just Wright in Queen Latifah's honor.