Gabrielle Union Speaks Out for the First Time After Her Controversial America's Got Talent Firing
It was recently confirmed that Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough would not be returning to the NBC competition series
Gabrielle Union is breaking her silence.
In the wake of her recent and controversial departure from America’s Got Talent, the actress, 47, sent a message to her Twitter followers and thanked them for their support during this difficult time.
“So many tears, so much gratitude,” she tweeted on Wednesday night. “THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”
Union also seemingly referenced the ordeal on her Instagram Stories earlier in the day with a video of herself working out alongside husband Dwyane Wade.
“When the world feels like it’s falling apart. Try to find your peace,” she captioned the clip.
Union’s message on Twitter came several hours after her husband, who she married in 2014, publicly defended her in a series of tweets on his own account.
The NBA legend, 37, began his thread by writing, ” ‘Men lie, Women lie, numbers don’t.’ Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show.”
“So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!?” Wade continued. “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.”
In a third tweet, Wade said he was proud of Union for “standing up for what she stands for” and practicing what she preaches to their 1-year-old daughter Kaavia.
“As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US,” he wrote, before adding, “So [cheers] to you @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter and for kicking ass while you were on that platform. Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world.”
News broke on Friday that Union and Julianne Hough — who joined the season 14 AGT judging panel back in February, replacing spots vacated by Mel B and Heidi Klum — would not be returning for the show’s upcoming 15th season.
On Monday, blog Love B Scott reported Union had allegedly spoken out about “problematic” situations on set before her departure.
A day later, a report by Variety made further allegations with multiple sources telling the publication that while working on the show, Union had expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations during her time as a judge, including a joke guest judge Jay Leno allegedly made that was later edited out of the episode.
She and Hough, 31, were also both subject to “excessive notes” on their physical appearance, sources alleged in Variety‘s report.
A spokesperson for NBC and production company Fremantle responded to such claims with a statement on Tuesday to PEOPLE, saying: “America’s Got Talent 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.”
Representatives for Hough, Union, Leno, and Simon Cowell‘s Syco Entertainment, which produces AGT, did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
According to Variety, during a taping of AGT over the summer, guest judge Leno allegedly made a joke about a painting on the wall that featured Cowell — who serves as a judge and executive producer — surrounded by his dogs.
Sources on the series told the outlet that Leno allegedly joked the dogs looked like something one would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant,” alluding to the stereotype that all Asian people eat dog meat.
Multiple people who were on set during the joke, Variety reports, including one Asian staffer, were offended and made uncomfortable by it.
Union also soon learned of the joke and allegedly urged producers to report the joke to NBC’s human resources department in an effort to bring awareness to the problematic issue, three sources told Variety. Despite her push, several insiders told the outlet that it was never addressed by HR. It was eventually cut by producers from the Aug. 6 episode.
In another instance, sources told Variety that Union found herself again speaking up against racial insensitivity when a white male contestant auditioned with an act where he portrayed people of color and impersonated singers through multiple quick costume changes.
During his performance, the man impersonated Beyoncé and, according to Variety‘s sources, emerged with black hands. The audition didn’t sit well with Union and she allegedly addressed the matter with a segment producer and an executive producer, explaining that the audience should not have to watch something so “racially insensitive.”
After the actress requested that they remove the audition from the show, the producers allegedly told her, “We’ll take it out later.” Like Leno’s dog joke, the contestant’s audition was also reportedly cut from the show.
Variety‘s report went on to describe claims that Union was allegedly told that her ever-changing hairstyles were “too black” for AGT‘s audience, while Hough reportedly received constant criticism on her hair, makeup, and wardrobe.
However, in a statement to Variety, the dancer/actress denied that she had a negative experience working on the show.
“I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew, and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC,” said Hough, who is set to star in two upcoming NBC Christmas specials. “I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”
It has yet to be announced who will replace Hough and Union for the upcoming season.