Kelly Rowland implies there was racism involved in the Cannes security incident

On Tuesday, Kelly Rowland walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. As she got to those famous steps, suddenly the festival security all started buzzing around her, blocking the photographers from taking her photo, and seemingly trying to rush her along. One female security guard in particular appeared to get too close to Kelly and possibly even put a hand on Kelly, and that’s when Kelly turned around and had some words with the woman. Kelly pointed at her and appeared to really tell that woman off. As I said in my coverage, I was Team Kelly – the video from the incident was so weird, especially as those people began buzzing around her and ruining her photos. What was also kind of gross was how many people went with their worst, most barely-contained racist dog-whistles about “angry Black women” and Kelly’s “attitude.” Well, at the Cannes amfAR gala on Thursday, Kelly spoke about what happened:

Kelly actually looks like she was about to cry. She said: “The woman knows what happened, I know what happened. I have a boundary and I stand by those boundaries and that is it… And there were other women that attended that carpet who did not quite look like me and they didn’t get scolded or pushed off or told to get off.” Exactly – there are tons of photos of white actresses and white C-list fashionistas posing their asses off on the carpet without security buzzing around them and talking down to them. “Scolded or pushed off or told to get off.” Painful. She shouldn’t have been treated that way. I should note this as well – the festival hasn’t said anything. They haven’t issued a statement saying “it was an unfortunate misunderstanding, of course we apologize to Kelly.” There’s a racial element to that as well.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

74 Responses to “Kelly Rowland implies there was racism involved in the Cannes security incident”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Pinkosaurus says:

    The festival 100% owes her an apology. That guard laughing with her coworkers after the incident could not have been more disrespectful, even if you thought her initial actions were acceptable (they were not). I hope the comments are not as terrible on this post as the prior one.

    Pointing your finger is not as aggressive as putting your hands on someone repeatedly when they have told you not to touch them.

    Team Kelly.

    • Lau says:

      I highly doubt that the festival would ever issue an apology. Every year you hear about terrible incidents happening there and nothing is ever done about it. I’m not even talking about what’s happening behind the scenes and usually comes to the surface months if not years later (if it does).

    • lucky says:

      Team Kelly.

    • Layday says:

      Yes it speaks volumes that the festival hasn’t said anything, and that the burden falls on her to address the disrespect, which is always the case with POC. Despite being the victim, we still bear the burden of articulating our humanity and why we shouldn’t be disrespected. A white woman would have never been treated like that, and the festival should have bent over backwards to at least espouse that they wanted its attendees to feel welcomed if nothing else even if we all know it’s lip service. Kelly’s experience evokes the opposite of that.

      Someone commented on the first post about this issue that it undermined real racism to try and act like this situation was not racist despite many people articulating why it was (disparate treatment). That’s the insidious if you are not called a racial slur, then it’s not racist nonsense that’s just as problematic as the racism. That’s what allows it to continue bubbling under. The sad part is that this is going to be thrown around as one of the reasons she is “difficult” when it wasn’t even her fault: Exhibit A people misconstruing the dressing room incident below. Kudos to Kelly for standing up for herself.

    • Fabiola says:

      I don’t see security touching her just leading her up but no contact. There have been plenty of black woman who walked the carpet yet she’s the only one causing a scene. She seems like a diva to me.

    • MelodyM says:

      She may never get an apology, but she is absolutely owed one! And for all of those upset about Kelly pointing her finger… I have no issues with it at all. I might have done worse. And, I do believe it was racially motivated. Bad form for the festival, all the way around! They have shown their bias on the world stage.

  2. StillDouchesOfCambridge says:

    Kelly might be a diva for leaving a morning show because of an inappropriate dressing room to her standards, but I am 100% TEAM KELLY. I know racism when I see it, and im waiting for their apology. Insane.

    • popped says:

      I believe she left the morning show because during her interview they kept asking about Beyonce’s new album instead of focusing on her work.

      • Teee says:

        I love how people keep trying to fuel the storyline that this was about her dressing room. Anything to discredit certain women.

    • Tanesha86 says:

      Her walking off the show had nothing to do with her being a “diva” or the size of her dressing room and this has been explained time and time again. Kelly was made uncomfortable by the hosts grilling her about Beyonce. She’d been a guest on the show multiple times before and knew the setup

    • Isabellla says:

      @stiildouches Bringing up the dressing room and then claiming to be Team Kelly is the essence of passive aggressive. Nice try.

    • 50snfabulous says:

      She didn’t leave the morning show because of the dressing room and she definitely is not a diva. She left because she was there to promote her movie and they kept asking her about Beyoncé and her new album

  3. Pinkosaurus says:

    The guard repeatedly touched her and Kelly also said she stepped on her gown, which was harder to tell from the footage but was either steeped on or snagged on the carpet. I don’t know why you are denying Kelly was touched repeatedly on the arm unless you think Kelly is lying in her explanation.

    • Mimi says:

      The video is upthread–the guard did not touch her. She was doing that annoying hover-hand thing, though. And it clearly shows her stepping on Kelly’s gown. Even then Kelly was still smiling at her, but her response was clearly something offensive, cause that’s when Kelly’s face changed.

  4. therese says:

    I’ve never seen anyone blocked off like that and ushered off. That woman was the worst, and she just refused to put her hand down when told to back off. Toward the end of the video she seemed to have the demeanor of having stood her ground stubbornly and proud of it. Kelly looked beautiful though, and those photographs count in a career. Poor dear. Don’t these people have training? The actors are guests: that is not how one treats a guest.

    • North of Boston says:

      I’ve never seen it either, and since they’ve got a lot more experience checking out premieres, festivals, events, red carpets, I thought the Go Fug Yourself take is worth mentioning.

      “… they’re notoriously strict at Cannes about trying to start things on time.
      This may well be true, and yet, never once — to my knowledge — have we heard of them trying to shove someone to the side and up the stairs in the midst of being photographed, much less someone as famous as Kelly Rowland, child of destiny, independent woman. Cannes doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on here. The best revenge, however, is both of these necklaces. ”

      I wish there were some pics of what happened just before the ones here, where 3 security people are swarming her, trying to herd her, holding their arms up, blocking her from getting a clean photo taken like they were blocking a star basketball player from passing. It was so strange.

      • Lisa says:

        Trying being the operative word

      • Mina_Esq says:

        Lainey also said that, in her experience reporting from Cannes, this kind of behaviour is selective and seems to target POC. So yeah, there is strict, and then there is this.

  5. Missmerry97 says:

    there is a lip reader online I follow who translated Kelly as saying “I’m not a child” “you’re not my parent” “don’t speak to me that way”…things like that. no lip reading from the other woman since her back was turned from this angle.

  6. Nubia says:

    Kelly is a talented singer,dancer and actress and was a part of one of the biggest girl groups in the world. Everyone should be treated equal in an ideal world but for HER to be treated that way while Heidi Klums,c listers and influencers were cheasing it up and given more respect and grace is plain wrong.

  7. Brassy Rebel says:

    I have been side eyeing Cannes FF for a while. It just seems so 20th century to me. Didn’t they make a big fuss over Woody Allen a couple of years ago? And every film gets a 10 minute standing ovation. Something is off at Cannes and this incident is one more piece of evidence. 😒🤨🤔

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      And, yes, it’s racist too.

      • yellowy says:

        That racism is France, though, not specifically a Cannes thing.

        I witnessed racial bigotry there that you don’t really see, in the UK, Australia and the USA, and none of those places have squeaky clean reputations in that regard.

  8. BlueSky says:

    To be in the business for as long as she has and still have to fight for respect is shameful. Imagine getting all dolled up, picture ready and someone making you feel like you don’t belong and not important. The woman laughing about it is more infuriating like she was mocking her. My heart goes out to Kelly. It’s hard enough being a BW but to be labeled “angry” just because you dare to stand up for yourself is maddening.

  9. JENNIFER says:

    I knew it was racism. And the crappy thing is, nothing will happen in France. They act like racism is not a thing in their country. And with the lack of solidarity these days, there won’t even be a threat of boycott.

    • SarahCS says:

      For many it’s a feature not a bug sadly. We want all the benefits from colonising countries but ew no, those people wanting to come here? L’horreur!

    • Danbury says:

      I came here to say the same. Unsurprising as it’s France – this isn’t even a blip on the radar, they don’t believe racism is real anyway (goes back to world war 2 collaboration trauma, don’t even get me started).

    • Mina_Esq says:

      It’s not that they are pretending that racism isn’t a thing. It’s that racism and nationalism are socially acceptable in Europe. It’s the same in every single country in Europe. The ugliness comes out the second they feel that a group is threatening their national identity. I am taken aback when I go back home to hear the people I believe to be truly good people say some horrible things.

      • Danbury says:

        @mina_esq for sure, but I find that France has a particular brand of racism, or negating racims – and it’s very closely tied into the collaborateurs in WW2. And they haven’t even begun to deal with the colonial past either.

      • TQ says:

        France does have a particular brand of racism. Definitely rooted in its colonial past. Have spent lots of time in France and going to French schools from a young age. France tries to feign ignorance about the depths of its racism by hiding beind its ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ national motto, but has always been a two-tiered society. They don’t even refer to non-White French people as French, they say ‘migrant background’, while being French is synonymous with being white French, which is racist as hell. They also refuse to collect statistics based on race and ethnicity, arguing that collecting the data perpetuates racism??!!! Have argued with countless French people about this for decades, but the blind eye to racism in France is particularly severe, while at the same time exotifying and fetishing aspects of Black culture. I was in Paris in 1989 going to school in the 7th A. for a couple weeks with white ‘hip hop kids’ who both loved hip hop culture and were simultaneously racist to the kids of color at the school. Was horrendous. SMDH.

    • Fabiola says:

      Kelly is not a A lister not even a B lister so I doubt they will ever apologize or care if she ever comes back. She’s not famous for being an actress so I don’t even know why she is there.

  10. poppedbubble says:

    It’s sad that Kelly felt she had to say something about her lived experience. One that we saw with our own eyes. You know what’s also sad? Me, waiting for the comments to come in still trying to minimize. Yes. I am still hot about the other day. P.S. One doesn’t have to be “Team Kelly” to believe that racism play a part. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  11. Jais says:

    That guard was out of line. Beyond out of line. The way her arm was purposely blocking pictures. What the hell.

  12. Lia says:

    It makes me so sad to see her holding back tears. It’s bad enough when microaggressions and disrespect happen, let alone filmed for the whole world to see.

  13. Amy Bee says:

    I’m not surprised about this at all.

  14. Tanesha86 says:

    I knew it was racism from the jump. All the women who hopped on here to slander and malign Kelly the other day with their thinly veiled racism should be ashamed of themselves. Listen to Black women

    • Lemons says:

      They won’t listen, but they will expect us to stand with them when the s–t hits their fan (because they missed all the warning signs we already alerted to).

      • Giddy says:

        I know this is painful and should never, ever have happened. But wait a minute and please don’t assume all white women are the same. I listen and always have, but in a way, I didn’t need to. Why? Because beginning in my childhood I was taught respect for all people and passed that on to my children. Yes, there were racist, belittling comments the other day, and that was absolutely shameful. So black and white women need to pull together, call out those comments, and demand respect for each other. On a shallow note, I hope that guard has her hair fall out and her teeth rot. Try laughing at others then!

      • Tanesha86 says:

        Giddy you sound like a hit dog hollering right now, especially because neither Lemons nor I ever called out white women specifically. If it doesn’t apply to you there’s absolutely no reason to be defensive like this, makes you look sus

      • BlueNailsBetty says:

        Giddy, I hope you will take a step back and ask yourself why you felt the need to demand that Black women accept that not all white women are bad.

        Do you think Black women can’t tell who is or isn’t an ally?

        Do you think the feelings of white women allies are more important than the voices of Black women who are pointing out racist behavior?

        Do you think you are an ally but have been called out for racist behavior and now you might be a bit defensive?

        Why did you feel the need to defend white women in an article about a racist white woman possibly assaulting a Black woman?

        There was no need for anyone to defend the “good white women”. No one was saying “all white women are bad”. By posting your not-all-white-women comment you inadvertently tried to redirect the attention from the abusive behavior Kelly Rowland received to protecting people who did not need protection.

        And trust me when I say I’ve made the same mistake. I am so grateful for the women (Black and white) who called me out and took the time to explain why my comment was offensive. It helped me examine my thought process and helped me root out another blob of racism to work against. I hope you will listen to the women who have posted a response to you and really take what they are saying to heart so you can learn and grow from this experience.

      • Fifty-50 says:

        @Giddy – Pretty typical that you can’t see beyond your own white feminist experience. Let me translate: You sound like one of those guys telling a group of women that not all men are against abortion while women are pointing out how the rights to their bodies are being taken away. “I know this is painful and should never, ever have happened. But wait a minute and please don’t assume all MEN are the same. I listen and always have, but in a way, I didn’t need to. Why? Because beginning in my childhood I was taught respect for all people and passed that on to my children.”


    • Ameerah M says:

      And then you have the “not all white women” folks rolling in. So tiresome.

      • Giddy says:

        I knew that commenting on this might be met with cynicism, so that’s my fault for wading in. Maybe it’s partly because I’m older than most commenters here, but I truly don’t understand this. How is that wrong to not want to be identified with racist, backwards fools who don’t condemn it when a lovely black woman is treated differently? There are plenty of groups I don’t want to be identified with: MAGA cultists, anyone who fights to remove classic literature from libraries, anyone who supports removing women’s rights in regards to their own health decisions, and most of all? Racist assholes. I promise to not comment on an article like this again.

      • Tanesha86 says:

        Giddy I think you’re still missing the point. You’re way too defensive and centering yourself for reasons I don’t understand. I don’t even know you to make any assumptions about you or lump you in with anyone. Your comments do make me feel like I couldn’t trust you or expect true allyship from you though if I’m being totally honest

      • BlueNailsBetty says:


        “ How is that wrong to not want to be identified with racist, backwards fools…”

        The problem is that no one mentioned you in any way yet you jumped in to defend yourself and white women. You were not under attack. No one was alluding to you.

        You could have just read the comments and thought “yep, some white people are aholes” and then moved on. Instead, you got offended that you specifically were being lumped in with racist white women and posted a defensive comment about it.

      • Blithe says:

        @Giddy, in my case, it’s less cynicism than exhaustion. Please read @BlueNailsBetty’s excellent and detailed post at 10:28, then read it again.

        Look at your two posts in this thread. Count up how many sentences are actually focused on yourself. Ask yourself how many of those sentences do anything —or even show anything — useful or helpful in ways that center either Kelly’s experience or the experiences of Black women. (Note: the uppercase B.)

      • Giddy says:

        I’m so sorry that I was inadvertently offensive. My sincere apologies to all.

    • kgeo says:

      If it helps at all, this looked like racism to me. You don’t put your hands on other people with a very few exceptions, and there was nothing that justified that behavior. The guard just felt like she could get away with it with Kelly, and it’s pretty obvious why.

  15. Ange says:

    What can you expect from a country that harbors and supports white paedophiles. And as someone who lived in France with a black Mother and white Father I can absolutely confirm that there is an enormous amount of disrespect and racism towards any people of color.

  16. Meija says:

    Team Kelly! I am if the DO NOT TOUCH crowd. No one has the right to put their hands on you without permission. No one

  17. Dani says:

    A lot of commenters should be ashamed of themselves for their initial reaction to what Kelly experienced. Black women are almost never believed in the first instance, and SO many of y’all proved that point with your whole chests two days ago. I wish y’all understood that y’all are dangerous to Black women for this reason alone.

    • Pinkosaurus says:

      I may be wrong but I think some of those racist commentators were trolls. The second post on this article was deleted but was a denial that Kelly was touched at all and was just being rude and hysterical. The worst of the comments on the previous post were not from any user names I recognized. Wish those trolls would stay on X.

      • Tanesha86 says:

        I find this comment dismissive honestly. There’s been a consistent pattern of racial bias among commenters here for a very long time. I don’t usually comment much but I’ve been a loyal reader for almost 20 years and it’s always been a problem. I do think it’s gotten worse lately though, to the point where I dread any articles covering controversy surrounding Black celebrities

    • TurbanMa says:

      I remember the first post but not so much the comments. It was actually the cb post that didn’t sit right with me. It just seemed off to say we didn’t know why she was at the premiere. Like why did that need to be said? I’m assuming she was there because she was invited so the initial post seemed off to me.

  18. TurbanMa says:

    I believe her. And a professional with training to be public facing should know how to appease and calm any perceived slight, instant apology, put your hands down, allow clear shots, apologize again and ask if she’s ready to move on. Not this, not this at all!

    • Flamingo says:

      Thank you @TurbanMa

      That’s exactly as it should have happened. I just can’t get past the arms going up blocking her and her photos. Which would be unusable to media outlets (besides the scandal part).

      I would think the Met Gala has the same level of security and you see them directing the guests up the stairs. But they never get in the shots and make it about themselves. Well, except the hot Italian guy that got fired for being ‘too hot’.

      Security is supposed to be invisible. So is the team around the celebrity. The fact her team had to step in to get the security personnel to back off was just bad form on the Cannes event leadership. This was a 3-4 security team boxing her in. Absolutely unacceptable behavior. Artists are there to do a job and promote a project. They treated Kelly like a criminal.

  19. Bumblebee says:

    That was so wrong. How Kelly was treated and how people reacted. Black women are allowed to defend themselves. And that whole laughing behind her back at the end, so disrespectful. Cannes silence speaks loud and clear, we support our racist staff bullying guests.

  20. Elsa says:

    I have zero interest in stepping a foot in France. I cannot believe they treated her that way. You do not put your hands on people.

  21. Flamingo says:

    There are some great content creators that name and shame people. I hope they are on it with that security team. That went out of their way to treat Kelly with such disrespect. Let’s make them famous!!

    No one should have their personal space invaded that way.

  22. crazyoldlady says:

    France can be super racist in a deeply smug “I know better” manner — and when they get called out the typical response is no response – or – a bunch of lies to justify their racism. The situation where this was very evident to me was at an formal athletic world championship event – where an African American US coach was blocked from being in coaching areas of the venue and searched by security over and over, aggressively questioned, asked how he got the national team coaching gear he was wearing, etc. Other the US coaches that were with him, tried to vouch and defend him to no avail. When formal complaints were filed – the “investigation” that did not actually interview any eye witnesses – said the coach had threatened security. This was patently false – and the protest over this racist event continues to this day in this sport.

  23. Elo says:

    I commented yesterday saying that this didn’t seem like the biggest deal and I thought that both the guard and Kelly deserved to be given grace as events can be high pressure and from pictures there was no way to tell what was really going on.
    Now that Kelly has spoken about the event, I concede that it was a bigger deal than I originally thought. I apologize if my original story comment was dismissive. I believe Kelly and I apologize for reserving my judgement, in this case it appears that I should have been more open to the viewpoint of other commenters. I’m glad Kelly has spoken out about it, I feel it’s better that she got in front of it and spoke out before Cannes did… or even worse doesn’t.

  24. Beverley says:

    Team Kelly all the way. As a Black woman, I’m absolutely exhausted how we have to fight our own battles, even against white women who claim to be “allies”. As Kelly must be, I’m just so tired.

    • sunny says:

      Yes to all of this. My group chat was all over this and we all immediately believed Kelly(because most of us are WOC, and half of us are Black). The immediate reaction was that we predicated Kelly would have to speak on it and defend herself by exposing the pain of the microaggression she experienced because society rarely treats black women as human.

      And I just want to say, the early comment section on CB was so disappointing. A reminder of how often Black women have to fight for ourselves after showing up to support everyone else.

  25. Myeh says:

    This makes me so sick. The security people’s gestures and facial expressions. I see the casual way they perpetuate harm and the how they’re dismissive and causally laughing afterwards. This is because they know their behavior will be normalized and they won’t face actual consequences. Maybe they get shifted to another “job position” at the festival by someone who is sympathetic and also a racist. Meanwhile Ms. Rowland has to do extra emotional labor that physically impacts her health and well being by having the expectation of attention put on her which is – either she tells us everything and how it went down or if chooses not to call more attention to it she has to do even more labor to defend herself from pointing a finger, a dressing room incident, the racist trope of being difficult, angry and of course the sin of being a prosperous black woman which is preposterous to the racist a-holes.

  26. therese says:

    Well, guess what. I saw a clip earlier today of Cannes. I was looking at a video about Kevin Costner’s film, and a clip was inserted, a very quick one that I couldn’t pause or slow down, and another star that I didn’t recognize was ascending the stairs, AND THAT SAME WOMAN was doing the same hand-raised thing she did to Kelly. The star she was doing it to obviously told her to quit, she refused to, as she did with Kelly, and the star took both hands and shoved her away from herself. So where is the freaking supervisor? Is anyone supervising this? It’s not the point that that the bullheaded woman keeps doing what SHE thinks is right (what she wants to do): the point is that WHAT she is doing is not working, and is offending ladies greatly. That’s the point. Get your fucking hands off them. Is your voice working? Can you not keep your hands to yourself, stand to the side, and say “please step this way, if you will”. It is just my opinion that when you work for someone else, you do not represent yourself, you represent the company and the brand of the company, and you reflect them. I have never seen this before. That woman needs to be fired, and there needs to be training so this will never happen again. It is also my opinion that when someone is your guest, you are responsible for them. I feel that way when I have someone in my home. OK, I’ll stop.

  27. Pomski says:

    Having taken time to fully process the video, Kelly’s remarks, and the comments of many others on various threads, my response to those on this site is this:
    If you think the actions of the security person with whom Kelly verbally engaged was appropriate, please count the number of other security personnel surrounding Kelly as she made her way up the stairs.
    If you think Kelly’s response to the security person was inappropriate, compare this to recent articles regarding how Jennifer Lopez and Hannah Waddingham responded to uncomfortable situations and notice the differing tone of online reactions.
    And finally, if you brought up opinions or viewpoints that Kelly shared in the past (opinions that you disagree with), ask yourself why you think this is relevant and what objective you’re serving regarding her character.

  28. Annalise says:

    100% team Kelly. Security absolutely treated her like she WASNT supposed to be there, and essentially acted to get her OFF the red carpet as quickly as possible (and it looks like the security lady was talking shit to her, to boot). What reason could they POSSIBLY have had to believe that Kelly didn’t “belong” there?? I cannot even imagine how humiliated and FURIOUS Kelly must have been. She is owed a GINORMOUS apology.

  29. H says:

    The same usher was just shoved by another actress (the one with the Jesus artwork on her dress) for some sort of similar situation.

  30. Bumblebee says:

    And now she blocked Yoona, a Korean singer, the same way she did Kelly and the Dominican woman H mentioned above. Only WOC has this been done too.

  31. HK9 says:

    Well, as of today-another actress actually pushed the security guard in question. Doing the same thing she did to Kelly. It’s the security guard.

  32. Chiara_Boss says:

    The story gets wilder: on one hand there are reports that Kelly Rowland was rushed because she was 6 minutes late, and the rules in Cannes are strict about it. However, the plot thickens as THIS SAME EXACT female guard also got handsy – full on grabbing – with actress Massiel Taveras who is of Dominican origin, who was there presenting HER movie and trying to show off a trail of her dress (with Jesus), completely ruining her moment.
    AND!! same female handsy guard also rushed and pushed Korean celebrity YoonA.
    3 incidents, all happened to women of color.
    All in all, having personal experience with old French privillaged institutiions I am so not surprised at their rampant racism, and zero effort to at least put up a facade with some sort of explanation or an apology.