Gabrielle Union’s exit from ‘America’s Got Talent’ raises questions

When former ‘America’s Got Talent’ judge Gabrielle Union was summarily dismissed, along with Juliana Hough, from the popular talent show, viewers voiced concern on social media outlets about the circumstances of the popular actress’s departure in after season 14 of the show.

It was announced in late November that Union and Hough would not be returning to the NBC competition series after only one season at the Simon Powell headed judges’ table.

Early report’s on the abrupt departure indicated that reoccurring issues with Union’s appearance were a prominent factor in the network’s decision not to renew Union’s contract.

But in the days since the news of Union’s and Hough’s departure broke, reports have surfaced that a Union had expressed concern over “offensive” incidents, which reportedly took place on the set. One which involved an inappropriate joke by Jay Leno, while Union and Hough were present.

Union’s persistence on official redress and resolution may have contributed to her firing by NBC executives.

The “Being Mary Jane” actress and new mom has been applauded by industry peers and supporters for her commitment to accountability in Hollywood, with scores of celebrities supporting her unflinching integrity.

Union’s husband, NBA basketball star Dwyane Wade said the decision to let the star go was as bewildering as it was bodacious. “As proud as I was of [Gabrielle] being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US,” the basketball star continued. Union reportedly reprimanded repeatedly for wearing hairstyles that were “too Black” for AGT audiences.

While Union can take some comfort in public support for her position on professional ethics, Simon Cowell, however, is dealing with the fallout following her exit from the show.

“AGT” producers and NBC issue a new statement in response to Union’s departure. “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” NBC said in a joint statement with AGT production companies Fremantle and Syco, which was founded by Simon Cowell, a judge and executive producer on the competition show. “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.”

Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Now, issued the following statement on Union’s departure from the show.

“Gabrielle Union’s experience at ‘America’s Got Talent’ is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work. Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behavior – including racially-insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance – but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labeled her as ‘difficult’ before ousting her from the show altogether,” the statement reads. “Union’s story is deeply troubling on its own, but her experience is particularly problematic because it follows a pattern of NBCUniversal protecting the careers of powerful men at the expense of women who speak out.”

A SAG-AFTRA spokesperson has confirmed to media outlets that an investigation has been launched into Union’s exit from “AGT.”


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