UPDATED with resignation news: Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief of Condé Nast-owned Bon Appétit, resigned Monday at the end of a day of facing calls for his ouster after a photo of him in brownface surfaced online.
Adding to the swirl of controversy on social media, editor Sohla El-Waylly also charged that she earns less than less-qualified co-workers and is not paid at all for video appearances, contrary to her white colleagues. She had called for Rapoport’s resignation in her social media posts.
“I am stepping down as editor in chief of Bon Appétit to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place,” Rapoport wrote on his Instagram account this evening.
The outcry over the photo and the pay disparity had prompted a deluge of angry replies to a tweet from the magazine on Sunday pointing to an article supporting black-owned restaurants.
The photo appearing to show Rapoport in brownface was taken on Halloween in 2013 and posted on Instagram. It elicited comments at the time such as, “That was so dead on, I was afraid of you two last night!”
El-Waylly, assistant food editor and a chef and restaurateur, is of Bengali heritage. On Instagram, she joined calls for Rapoport’s resignation. She also said that she had been “pushed in front of video as a display of diversity,” but has made $50,000 during her 10-month stint at the magazine, less than many co-workers despite her 15 years of food industry experience.
Plus, she added, “currently only white editors are paid for video appearances. None of the people of color have been compensated.” She ended her post by saying, “Let’s use this opportunity to clean house and make real change.” Research director Joseph Hernandez tweeted, “I’m likely courting internal reprimand, but I’m appalled and insulted by the EIC’s choice to embrace brownface in the photo making the rounds. I’ve spent my career celebrating Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and POC voices in food, and this feels like an erasure of that work.”
In a statement provided to Deadline, Condé Nast said, ” As a global media company, Condé Nast is dedicated to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. We have a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination and harassment in any forms. Consistent with that, we go to great lengths to ensure that employees are paid fairly, in accordance with their roles and experience, across the entire company. We take the well-being of our employees seriously and prioritize a people-first approach to our culture.”
Condé Nast, which also owns such major magazines as The New Yorker and Vogue, is in the midst of a makeover under new CEO Roger Lynch, who comes from a tech-centric background outside of the media industry. Prior to his arrival, the decline of print advertising already had prompted the company to shift its focus to digital platforms, with a particular emphasis on digital video. With the explosion of viewing and, more recently, streaming, brands like Bon Appétit have gained traction given their lifestyle focus and highly social programming. Condé Nast Entertainment is slated to pitch its video wares to digital advertisers during a virtual NewFronts presentation later this month.
El-Waylly, who has run a popular, upscale diner in Brooklyn with her husband, also is a familiar presence to viewers of Bon Appétit shows like Pastry Chefs Attempt to Make … In one of its episodes produced in the magazine’s test kitchen, it presents an effort to produce a gourmet take on Andes Mints. El-Waylly is seen showing the co-hosts about how to temper chocolate and properly add mint flavoring to white chocolate after several of their unsuccessful attempts.
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