After meeting with fired “America’s Got Talent” host Gabrielle Union at length on Tuesday, NBC says it will open an investigation regarding the talent show.
“We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday,” Union said Wednesday on Twitter. “I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”
NBC agreed, saying in a statement Wednesday afternoon, “The initial conversation was candid and productive. While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.”
Union, along with fellow celebrity judge Julianne Hough, found herself out of a job recently when “AGT” decided not to extend the women’s contracts for a second season. Series creator Simon Cowell, longtime judge Howie Mandel and more recent addition Terry Crews will continue on the panel.
We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday. I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 4, 2019
Details about the women’s experiences on the show emerged a little more than a week ago in a Nov. 26 Variety story alleging that they’d faced excessive on-set criticism of their physical appearance.
Union in particular reportedly received notes about her changing hairstyles being “too black” for the audience. She also complained to producers about a joke guest judge Jay Leno allegedly made about dogs and Korean restaurants, as well as a white male contestant impersonating people of color in an audition, according to the Variety story, but her concerns about racism were dismissed. (Both the joke and the audition were edited out of their respective episodes before air, according to Variety.)
A story by Vulture the following day further detailed the allegations in those cases, as well as additional allegations of racial insensitivity, Cowell’s indoor smoking and the misgendering of contestants.
In addition, Union’s husband, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, set Twitter on fire the day before Thanksgiving, saying in part, “when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!? I am still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.”
Before the weekend ended, SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, announced its own plans to investigate what happened behind the scenes on the reality series.
“We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement provided to The Times. “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.”
Advocacy group Time’s Up released a statement and launched a petition calling on NBC to correct and own up to the “racist and inappropriate behavior” Union allegedly experienced during her “America’s Got Talent” stint.
Celebrities including Ellen Pompeo, Ariana Grande, Elizabeth Banks, Jameela Jamil, Shonda Rhimes and former “AGT” judge Howard Stern have also stepped up in recent days to express support for Union.