‘America’s Got Talent’ host Terry Crews challenges Gabrielle Union on racism allegations

Terry Crews
Terry Crews has weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding Gabrielle Union’s exit from “America’s Got Talent.”
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

After drawing criticism for his silence on the controversy surrounding Gabrielle Union’s exit from “America’s Got Talent,” host Terry Crews is finally speaking out — but not in support of his former castmate.

And Union does not seem pleased.

Appearing on Thursday’s “Today” show, Crews addressed reports that Union was relieved of her judging duties on the NBC reality show in November after she voiced concerns about a toxic and racist culture on set.

Among the incidents Union is said to have reported were an offensive joke Jay Leno allegedly made about Korean restaurants while taping a spot for the series, as well as notes from the network allegedly asking Union to tone down her “too black” hairstyles.


“I can’t speak for sexism because I am not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments,” Crews said. “That was never my experience on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ In fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment. The top 10 acts were Asian, women, older, younger, black, white. It was everything in the gamut.”

“I believe you should listen to women — you should always believe women — so I asked my wife what I should do,” Crews said Thursday. “Because Gabrielle Union has not made any statement to this day about any of these allegations publicly. ... My wife said, ‘Well, if she hasn’t made a statement, why would you?’”

When asked if he had spoken to Union herself, Crews replied, “I have not. I reached out but I have not heard anything.”

Without naming the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star directly, Union on Friday appeared to slam Crews’ comments and defend herself on Twitter, where she has remained outspoken about injustices in the entertainment industry.

“Truth telling, wanting change & having MULTIPLE witnesses who bravely came forward to let EVERYONE know I didn’t lie or exaggerate, really exposes those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus, forgetting quickly who stepped up 4 THEIR truth,” she wrote in response to a supportive fan, later adding, “Why anyone would gleefully get up on TV and tell lies that NO ONE disputed. ... But we already know.”

While Union hasn’t publicly discussed her grievances with the show, she has acknowledged the ongoing discourse around and investigation into her claims, offering an update after meeting with NBC to discuss the situation.

“We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday,” the actress tweeted last month. “I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”

Their sit-down prompted the network to launch a further investigation into Union’s concerns.

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.

It’s unclear if Crews received any consultation from NBC — which houses both “America’s Got Talent” and “Today” — before weighing in on the debate Thursday. But Union’s latest social media remarks suggest she isn’t pleased with how the network is handling the investigation.

“Maaaaaan... We all agreed to let the investigation be completed before speaking but if we doing this... ohhhhh baby let’s gooooooooooo!” she wrote.

Crews will appear next as emcee of “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” on Monday.