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Gabrielle Union's ‘America's Got Talent’ Firing Sparks Investigation

Inset Angry Gabrille Union, Judges of NBC's America's Got Talent: Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough, Simon Cowell
Source: MEGA; Trae Patton/NBC

Dec. 2 2019, Updated 5:47 p.m. ET

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Gabrielle Union's America's Got Talent firing has sparked an investigation into the popular show, with sources claiming there is a culture of racism and sexism behind the scenes and on set.

The news comes days after AGT announced Union and Julianne Hough — who replaced Mel B and Heidi Klumwould not be returning as judges on the upcoming 15th season.

“So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone... you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever,” Union, 47, tweeted on November 30 — one week after the announcement.

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That same week, a report by Variety claimed that while on the show, Union expressed concerns over racially-insensitive experiences. One instance allegedly involved Jay Leno and a joke he made on set about Koreans eating dog meat. Union reportedly complained about the remark, but nothing was done.

Another instance involved a white male contestant who auditioned for the show by portraying people of color in his performance and dressing up in inappropriate outfits.

Union allegedly also blew the whistle on various acts of sexism on set. According to Variety, both she and Hough, 31, were given “excessive notes” on their appearance, and Union was told that her changing hairstyles were “too black.”

On November 30, Union retweeted a post by a fan who created an animated video of women of color rocking multiple hairstyles. “More tears. #BlackHairChallenge all these posts give me so much life & specifically more courage. Thank you guys!!” the actress wrote.

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After the shocking report was released, the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA said in a statement, “We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.”

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The organization added that it will conduct its investigation independent from the AGT team or network.

While Union has not spoken out regarding the sexism and racism claims (Hough denied in a statement to Variety that she had any negative experiences while working on the show), she did share a cryptic tweet from freelance writer and host Joelle Monique, this December 1.

In her tweet, Monique gave the steps for a “solid apology”: “1. Sincerely admit wrong doing directly to the offended party. 2. Be twice as loud correcting your mistake as you were making the mistake. 3. Lay out steps to correct your behavior in the future. Anything less is covering your own a**.”

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Union retweeted the post, writing in the caption, “This! This! AND THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!”

Her alleged reaction to the drama came soon after a spokesperson for NBC and production company Fremantle shared a statement saying: “America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show. The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”

The investigation is ongoing.



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