Coleen Garcia and Billy Crawford’s prenup shoot drew flak from netizens who claimed this was cultural insensitivity. At first, the Ethiopians pictured seemed to function as props next to Coleen and Billy who were drawing all the attention. But soon the couple issued a statement regarding this particular shoot.
MJ Felipe of ABS-CBN posted the official statement on his Twitter account.
READ: Here’s the official statement of Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia re their pre-nup photos being tagged as “racist”. pic.twitter.com/5jmh7mImtz
— MJ Felipe (@mjfelipe) March 11, 2018
Taken out of context
“It’s far from what we intended. We were invited and sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines to do our shoot there for their tourism and capture their natural environment because we were told that tourism helps their economy. That’s why we were in Ethiopia,” the couple clarified right at the beginning.
“We had a local guide present throughout the entire duration of the shoot and leisure time in Ethiopia. He took us around and made suggestions for the shoot, such as including the priests of Lalibela in our photos because they wanted people to see.
We based our layouts off of some of their suggestions. The locals were so kind, warm, and welcoming, and they love meeting tourists. They even gave us some items of clothing to add to our shoot, for which they showed so much support.”
As for the shot with the Ethiopian childen and women, Billy and Coleen’s statement reads that the kids were just having fun around the camera and ‘wanted to be part of the photo’ to which their photographer agreed to do so.
A local came and was ‘scolding them and shooing them away’ because they seemed like they were disturbing the shoot but the couple ‘felt differently’ and assured the local that it was okay the kids were there. “We never forced anyone nor wanted to disrespect any race or culture,” they added.
The couple also said that the photos are very precious to them because it contains memories and experiences that were organic and eye-opening, “Every time we look at the photos, we remember how we got to interact with the locals while we were there, and its something truly memorable for all of us including the team.”
‘We could have done better’
Coleen Garcia and Billy Crawford also took the time to apologize to those who have been offended by the photoshoot. They understand that the photos came across as offensive and oppressive and admit that they ‘could have done better’.
Crawford concluded his statement on a personal note, saying he was all too familiar with the bullying and racism throughout his younger days, “I grew up in a very diverse city (Roosevelt Island), and had experienced bullying and racism in my youth because of my being “an Asian”. Trust me, we meant no harm.”