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Julianne Hough champions Gabrielle Union in ‘America’s Got Talent’ debacle

Julianne Hough at Netflix premiere of Dolly Parton’s “Heartstrings”
Professional dancer and singer Julianne Hough addresses Gabrielle Union’s “America’s Got Talent” dust-up.
(Jason Kempin / Getty Images for Netflix)

As NBC launches a deeper investigation into the working conditions on “America’s Got Talent,” former judge Julianne Hough is applauding fellow judge Gabrielle Union for blowing the whistle on the talent show.

“When I see that comment there, that excites me so much, because that is what we need to start conversations and I just commend Gabrielle for speaking her truth and starting a conversation,” Hough said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, referring to Union’s Wednesday tweet about a “productive” five-hour meeting with the network.

“I’m really proud of NBC as well for showing up and starting a narrative, and that’s what’s going to change the workplace and the paradigm that we’ve been working in for many, many years. It’s shifting and that’s really exciting,” Hough added.

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Variety reported last month that celebrity judges Hough and Union were dismissed as “AGT” panelists after NBC declined to extend the women’s contracts for a second season.

Meanwhile, series creator Simon Cowell, longtime judge Howie Mandel and host Terry Crews were slated to return. The dismissal reportedly followed Union’s complaints about a toxic workplace, racially insensitive incidents and inappropriate behavior involving talent and producers on the show.

As a result, NBC and the SAG-AFTRA union have opened investigations into the allegations.

Hough, of “Dancing With the Stars” fame, did not say Thursday whether she experienced or witnessed similar conditions as Union did, but she wasn’t surprised by the attention the dust-up sparked, either.

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“I think this is a big conversation and people really want to be a leader of change. People are supporting it,” she said. “Again I’m just really excited about the tweet to show that two people can come together and have that conversation.”

A lot has transpired since NBC fired Gabrielle Union from “America’s Got Talent” after she alleged a toxic and racist culture on the show.


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