The April 2017 ad featuring Jenner joining a melting pot of cheeky activists and greeting a police officer with a Pepsi, was seen as tone-deaf with Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter taking offense to the ad’s message. Now looking back on the moment, Jenner says she was hurt by the backlash since she didn’t intend to disrespect BLM or the growing social justice movements happening in America.
“Obviously, my intention was not to hurt anyone,” she said. “Honestly, I just hid out. It hurt me that I hurt other people. I’ve been yelled at before, stepped in controversy before, but nothing to that extent. You can never really prepare for something like that.”
Jenner also addressed the controversy during a Oct. 2017 episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. “I just felt so f**king stupid,” she said to big sister Kim Kardashian. “The fact that I would offend other people definitely wasn’t the intent. I genuinely feel like sh*t and I don’t know how I can bounce back from it.”
When asked if any of her African-American friends or family members explained to her the issue with the ad, she said no. “Nobody came to me to explain it to where I was like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ But I’m not an idiot. I can see it for myself,” she added. She said she did have trouble pinpointing exactly what was wrong with the ad, but later understood the bigger picture.
“I didn’t think of the ad as controversial for exactly this reason,” she said. “When it was physically happening—the high five? Isn’t that what everyone was freaking out over?—I just didn’t think of it like that.”
In the end, Jenner said the gaffe taught her to be less of a robot when it comes to creative collaborations with corporate brands. “I am a huge people pleaser, and that is what my job has always been: You come to set and you do what you’re told,” she said. “But that’s what I took out of it: I need to be more present and pay more attention.”