Gabrielle Union Speaks Out After NBC Says It's 'Working with' the Actress Following Her AGT Firing
Also on Sunday, Syco Entertainment, NBC and production company Fremantle released a new statement about Gabrielle Union's unexpected firing from the show
On Sunday, the actress shared a tweet from freelance writer and host Joelle Monique and commented on the proper way to apologize, shortly after Simon Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment, NBC and production company Fremantle released a new statement about Union’s unexpected firing from the show.
In her tweet, Monique outlined what makes for a “solid apology”: “1. Sincerely admit wrong doing directly to the offended party. 2. Be twice as loud correcting your mistake as you were making the mistake. 3. Lay out steps to correct your behavior in the future. Anything less is covering your own a–.”
Union retweeted Monique’s post, adding, “This! This! AND THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!”
Prior to the 47-year-old actress sharing the tweet, Syco Entertainment, NBC and Fremantle said in a statement, obtained by PEOPLE on Sunday: “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
News broke on Nov. 22 that Union and Julianne Hough — who joined the season 14 AGT judging panel in February, replacing spots vacated by Mel B and Heidi Klum — would not be returning for the show’s upcoming 15th season. (It has yet to be announced who will replace Hough and Union for the upcoming season.)
A day later, a report by Variety claimed 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.
Union 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 Fremantle previously responded to such claims with a statement to PEOPLE on Nov. 26, 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, and Leno have not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Blog Love B Scott was first to report about complaints Union had allegedly made prior to her departure, with an NBC source saying that she had spoken out about “problematic” situations on set.
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, 60, — 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.
Variety‘s report went on to describe claims that Union and Hough often received “excessive notes” on their appearance — noting 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, Hough 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.”
Union broke her silence on her controversial departure last Wednesday, thanking her followers for their support during this difficult time. “So many tears, so much gratitude,” she tweeted. “THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”