Actress Gabrielle Union was released from America’s Got Talent after only one season with the show. Her unexpected exit is claimed to be a result of a “toxic culture” and “excessive notes” on Union’s appearance, specifically her natural hair styles.
Gabrielle’s release from the show also comes after former talk show host Jay Leno came on the show and made a derogatory joke towards Asians. According to on set sources, “Leno made a crack about a painting on display in a hallway of Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and judge, surrounded by his dogs. Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find ‘on the menu at a Korean restaurant.’”
Following the incident, Union felt compelled to report it to Human Resources due to the racist nature and discomfort asian staff members felt. As a result, the joke was cut from the August 6th episode, but nothing further was done.
According to a Variety report, the actress was let go from the NBC hit show, along with Julianne Hough, after expressing concern over offensive incidents that took place on the set. Some of that feedback included critiquing hairstyles Union wore that were considered “too black” for viewers. She is said to have received this note from producers “half a dozen times.”
Although the show announced Hough and Union’s departure together, as of now Union has not made any statement confirming or denying these claims while Hough has denied it.
Gabrielle Union’s husband Dwayne Wade spoke out on twitter. Through various tweets, the NBA legend stood by his wife and made it clear her outspokenness played a role in her being fired.
This also comes after Nick Cannon quit his job as host after eight seasons in 2017 after the network threatened to fire him. He wrote, “my soul won’t allow me to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices.”
NBC has denied the claims, saying in a statement that the show “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.”