The trio of producers behind America’s Got Talent—NBC, Fremantle and Simon Cowell’s Syco—have released a joint statement where they claimed to be working with Union to “hear more about her concerns” and act accordingly.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the statement reads. “We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
Union has responded to their statement by retweeting another person who may have summed up her feelings towards what the producers of America’s Got Talent had to say.
Gabrielle Union has spoken up about the support she’s received following her firing from America’s Got Talent. “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU,” she wrote on Twitter. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… You got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”
Additionally, further details about the toxic work environment on the show have begun to surface via Vulture. Simon Cowell reportedly labeled Union “difficult” during her time on the show, and he repeatedly refused to stop smoking indoors around her even though she is allergic to cigarette smoke. Sources close to the situation suggested that an NBC executive and production staff all told her no one could stop him from smoking.
Union also allegedly felt as though producers were trying to get her to side with a white dance group from Texas over a black 10-year-old rapper, who was enthusiastically embraced by the audience when he performed. She was so frustrated that she went outside to get some air, and when she came back she was told that Cowell was angry that she had left.
Sources added that Cowell told Union if the 10-year-old rapper, Dylan Gilmer, was important to her then he would be willing to keep him around. Other sources painted him as being hostile and aggressive upon delivering this message, and Union was not happy with the situation as a whole. She was later pushed to have a meeting with Cowell at his home last year, but it is not clear how it went.
It was originally thought that America’s Got Talent judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough amicably parted ways from the reality show, but a new report from Variety details a toxic work environment behind the scenes.
After guest judge Jay Leno made a joke about what Asians eat. Gazing upon a picture of executive producer Simon Cowell with his dogs, Leno reportedly said the dogs looked like something you’d find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant,” Variety reports. Union reportedly spoke up against the racist joke and asked for the incident to be reported to human resources. Although the joke never aired, it was also never reported to human resources, just one example of racist insensitivities on set.
Union and Hough both reportedly were given various notes about their physical appearance while working on the reality talent competition. Union was also reportedly told multiple times that her hairstyles were “too black” for the America’s Got Talent audience, while Hough was critiqued often on her hair, makeup and outfits.
Hough has denied the allegations. “I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC,” she said. Union has not offered any comment as of yet, but sources at NBC told gossip website LoveBScott that she was fired directly as a result of speaking out about “problematic situations.”
“America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” NBC and Fremantle, a production company, told USA TODAY in a statement regarding the allegations. “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.”
AGT has yet to name replacements for Union and Hough.