Gabrielle Union has been making headlines after her departure from America’s Got Talent. The news broke on Nov. 22, with sources making it seem as if the change was merely another panel rotation. But others have since alleged that that’s not the case.
On Nov. 23, it was reported that Union got fired after speaking out about the work environment. While Union has not yet addressed the reports, sources have been shedding light on what exactly happened. Most recently, insiders claimed that the Breaking In actress got fired after she tried to report a racist joke. Here’s what happened and how people are responding to the news.
A quick recap of Gabrielle Union’s departure from ‘AGT’
On Nov. 22, Variety broke the news that Union, as well as Julianne Hough, would not be returning to the show and that Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Terry Crews would. Union and Hough were brought on for the show’s 14th season, which ran from May to September 2019.
Though her departure seemed abrupt, sources told Variety that Union’s exit was “amicable” on both sides. But on Nov. 23, sources suggested to lovebscott.com that that might not be true. Insiders claimed that Union was removed after speaking out about “problematic” situations and that Cowell allegedly had a hand in that decision.
As of writing, neither Union or Cowell has addressed the report.
The latest update on Gabrielle Union’s removal from ‘AGT’
On Nov. 26, sources told Variety that Union got fired after expressing her concerns about racially insensitive situations. One of them includes an alleged joke guest judge Jay Leno made.
According to the insiders, Leno made a joke about a painting of Cowell and his dogs, saying the pets looked like something that would be “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.” The joke perpetuates stereotypes that Asians eat dogs.
Union reportedly “urged producers to report the joke to human resources at NBC.” She allegedly tried to tell producers how offensive the joke would potentially be to AGT viewers and its staff, which only includes a “few” Asians.
The complaint did not make it to the human resources department. But ultimately, Leno’s alleged comment was cut from the episode, which aired on Aug. 6.
It’s said to be one of many examples of a “toxic culture” on AGT. Insiders also told Variety that Union was often criticized, with executives telling her that her changing hairstyles were “too black” for the audience of the show. Multiple insiders told the outlet that Union received notes about her hair more than six times. But one insider pushed back on the number of notes, saying that she had only received messages about “hair continuity.”
What has NBC said about all of this?
NBC and series producer Fremantle said in a statement shared with Variety that it was merely switching things up in regards to Union’s exit. The statement also said that “NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”
“‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” the statement read. “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.”
Even if that’s true, people still can’t get over the decision to cut Union. She’s arguably one of the most popular judges who has ever appeared on the show, generating over 10 million social media impressions during season 14.
“Based on weekly interactions on social media, by the time AGT finale aired Gabrielle was the #1 talent on network TV for 2019,” a source told lovebscott.com.
Twitter reactions to Gabrielle Union’s firing from ‘AGT’
As you can imagine, people are seriously bothered by these reports. Many of them took to Twitter to share their reactions, which range from shock to utter disappointment to rage.
“So let me get this straight … the judge who single-handedly multiplied this show’s social engagement and is the No. 1 talent on the show is out? … Make it make sense,” one woman tweeted.
“The more I read about this story the angrier I get. [Gabrielle Union] has always been vocal about injustice. Did they want her to be a good lil negro and just cash her check? And I’m noting all these silent a** ‘allies’ right now. Your silence is screaming loud,” commented another.
Someone else added, “She’s the only reason I watched this show.”
Others praised Union for her reported efforts, with one person tweeting, “She is a TRUE champion of diversity and inclusion for people of color, the LGBTQ community and women. She deserves much better than this.”
“Much respect,” said another.