America’s Got Talent Producers Are Working with Gabrielle Union’s Reps After Firing Backlash


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Update 12/01/19: NBC and Freemantle released an updated statement on Sunday, Dec. 1 saying they are working with Gabrielle Union through her representatives to resolve the situation.

We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. 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,” the statement reads.

TV Guide’s original story is below.

Previously 11/28/19: Gabrielle Union posted a heartfelt Twitter message on Thursday thanking her fans for their support after she was reportedly fired as a judge on NBC’s hit competition series America’s Got Talent.

“So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU!” the actress wrote in a tweet. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”

Union has received widespread support on social media since Variety reported that NBC decided not to renew the contracts of Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough. In Variety‘s report, sources said that Union took issue with the “toxic culture” at the show. Sources told Variety that Union was criticized for her hairstyles being “too black” for America’s Got Talent‘s audience. Variety also detailed an incident in which Union urged producers to make a report to human resources about a joke made by guest judge Jay Leno that disparaged Asian people.

Vulture reported that Union’s efforts to cast a 10-year-old black rapper were rebuffed because producers wanted a contestant “America could get behind.” A white high-kicking group was chosen instead. Vulture also reported that Union had also taken issue with Simon Cowell allegedly smoking in doors, but her complaint was ignored.

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The network and series producer Fremantle released a shared statement to TV Guide and other outlets: “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.”

Among the people coming to Union’s defense on social media are pop star Ariana Grande, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, the latter of whom posted several scathing tweets criticizing NBC. “It’s unfortunate that @nbc the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out or not putting up with it…has not changed their practices or culture. I support @itsgabrielleu commitment to speaking up to injustice,” Pompeo wrote. “It takes courage.”

She also called on white women to stand beside women of color on feminist and social justice issues. “Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women,” she wrote. “If you go for self in these moments you undermine the work we are out here trying to do. Obviously this network feels like they can operate like this and it’s okay.”

Union’s husband, basketball player Dwyane Wade, also responded to Union’s firing on Twitter. “When I got the news that my wife was being fired — my first question was obviously shy!? I am still waiting on a good answer to that question,” he tweeted. “But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her, you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.” He went on to call her the “Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world,” and praised her for “not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter.”

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