(WASHINGTON) — After causing an uproar over a photo post on her now-private Instagram account, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin’s actress-producer wife, Louise Linton, apologized on Tuesday for making a controversial comment at a user on the social media platform.
“I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response,” Linton said in a statement Tuesday. “It was inappropriate and highly insensitive.”
The apology was regarding a controversial comment in response to a user comment on a photo she posted showing her stepping off a government plane with her husband.
She wrote in the photo’s caption, “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside, and went on to include hashtags of various luxury designers she was wearing: “#rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa.”
The user wrote in response to her photo, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable” — a comment that Linton didn’t seem to appreciate.
“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she asked. “I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”
Though Linton has been in the public eye for some time, many are unfamiliar with who she is. Here are a few things to know:
1. The Scottish-born actress had a privileged upbringing: In 2015, Linton told Flavour magazine that she spent her weekends at Scotland’s Melville Castle, which her family’s trust acquired in 1993, according to the castle’s website.
“It was an idyllic childhood spent mostly outdoors with all the animals. My siblings and I zoomed around on little motorbikes, kayaked, fished, spent time racing through the woods shooting each other with B.B. guns. It was a very normal life,” she said. “The castle is magical and filled with so much history.”
2. She’s no stranger to controversy: In 2016, Linton came under fire after publishing a memoir about her gap year in Zambia, which critics said contained falsehoods about the country and conflicts in the region. Others also took issue with the general tone of the book, saying that Linton portrayed herself as a “white savior.”
“I know that the skinny white girl once so incongruous in Africa still lives on inside me,” she wrote in the book, according to the Washington Post. “Even in this world where I’m supposed to belong, I still sometimes feel out of place. Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola.”
At the time of its publication, the hashtag #LintonLies began trending on Twitter, and according to the Scotsman newspaper, the Zambian High Commission in London slammed Linton for her “falsified” account and accused her of “tarnishing the image of a very friendly and peaceful country.” Abigail Chaponda, the first press secretary for the organization, also criticized Linton’s descriptions of children with HIV and her decision to publish their photos.
“Those who work in the area of HIV and AIDS understand the need to respect the confidentiality of the people they work with,” she said. “Clearly Ms. Linton does not seem to take this into consideration nor does she seem to understand that freedom of expression comes with responsibility.”
Ultimately, Linton issued a mea culpa, which the Times of Zambia reported was accepted by the government.
“My goal was to convey what a remarkable country it was, and how I was personally moved by my experiences there. It was about being a naïve teenager on a big adventure who was reeling from the loss of her mother. I never imagined the book would insult anyone,” she wrote on her website. “I have great warmth and admiration for Zambia and her people, and was deeply dismayed and saddened that I had caused them any offense. Realizing my mistake, I immediately apologized and retracted the book.”
According to Amazon, “In Congo’s Shadow: One Girl’s Perilous Journey to the Heart of Africa” is out of print.
3. She has expensive taste: In her now-famous Instagram post, Linton tagged her outfit’s high-end designers, including Roland Mouret, Valentino and Hermes. However, wearing luxury items is nothing new for Linton, who said in 2011 that her dog was named “De Beers,” after the diamond company. For her June 24 wedding to Mnuchin, Linton wore a custom Ines Di Santo gown, according to the New York Times, and diamond jewelry. In the days leading up to her nuptials Linton gave Town & Country magazine a sneak peek into her jewelry box, which features a diamond necklace, Asscher-cut diamond studs that Mnuchin gave her as a Valentine’s gift, and an art deco bracelet featuring a variety of stones by jeweler Martin Katz. As for her home, Redfin reported this past April that Mnuchin paid $12.6 million for the couple’s 9-bedroom, 14-bathroom estate in Washington D.C.
4. She’s held several jobs in the film industry: “Linton” is actually a stage name that the actress adopted after entering show business; her real last name is “Hay.”
“I’m aware I’m stepping into an industry which can be glowing but also challenging, so it was a measure to protect those who share my last name,” she said in a 2011 profile. “Linton is my brother’s middle name, and one of my father’s names. There is a famous author called Louise Hay too, so I wanted to avoid confusion.”
Since becoming an actress, Linton, who also went to law school, has appeared in films including “Rules Don’t Apply” and “Cabin Fever,” as well as the TV movie, “William & Kate.” She also started her own production company, Stormchaser Films, and earlier this year, briefly became the interim CEO of Dune Entertainment — a position previously held by the treasury secretary — though she stepped down a few weeks later, according to a June Bloomberg report. In a statement, Linton said that she “stepped aside to avoid any conflicts after Steven and I are married.”
5. Philanthropy is important to her: On her website, Linton noted that she’s worked with an animal non-profit, Mutt Match L.A., and previously served as an ambassador for Erskine, a military charity supported by Sir Sean Connery. She also told Locale magazine in 2014 that she also supports the Butterfly Trust, a Scottish charity for Cystic Fibrosis, and a Scottish animal rescue, Any Dog’il Do Rescue. She also serves on the 2017 UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Board. “My mother was a genuine altruist. She was down to earth, extremely generous and involved in the Murrayfield Parish Church. Her death [when Linton was a teen] shaped me,” Linton told the Herald magazine in 2011. “It has made me more empathetic and taught me to appreciate life is short. You have to live it to the fullest, not just in personal endeavors, but also in being a kind and humane person and by helping as many helping as you can.”
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