Gabrielle Union met with NBC and America's Got Talent's production company after her controversial departure

By Jodi Guglielmi
December 05, 2019 10:22 AM

Ex-America’s Got Talent judge Julianne Hough has addressed former colleague Gabrielle Union‘s meeting with NBC on Wednesday following their controversial exits from the competition show.

Hough told Access Hollywood that she supports open and “respectful” dialogue.

“That’s really exciting,” she said of the meeting.”I think that’s such an important step that two people — or multiple people — can come together and create change or whatever it may be,” she told ExtraTV. “And that there is a dialogue and a narrative that is respectful and integral. That’s amazing and I hope that we can see that that is a great step.

When asked if she’s spoken directly with Union, Hough said she has “not.”

She expanded on that during the third hour of Today.

“I have reached out. I think we both have been very busy … hopefully when I get back to L.A. later this afternoon, we can have a conversation,” she said.

She applauded her former costar for taking a stand — and the network for hearing her out.

“We need to start conversations, and I just commend Gabrielle for speaking her truth and starting a conversation. I’m really proud of NBC as well for also showing up and starting a narrative, and that’s what’s going to change the work place, and the paradigm that we’ve been working in for many many years and is shifting, and I think that’s really exciting,” she said. “Life is crazy, and sometimes you can’t  control things, and when obstacles come your way, you have to be graceful about it and have integrity, and I think that people with authenticity and integrity will create change.”

Union, 47, tweeted Wednesday that she had met with the television broadcasting company and expressed her “hope for real change.”

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

Trae Patton/NBC

RELATED: NBC Launching Investigation Into America’s Got Talent After ‘5-Hour’ Meeting with Gabrielle Union

After the meeting, NBC announced that it will further investigate America’s Got Talent’s production company.

“The initial conversation was candid and productive,” an NBC spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE.

“While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution,” the spokesperson said.

The meeting came amid growing public outrage that Union and Hough‘s exits from the show were reportedly the result of a toxic workplace culture at the network’s talent competition series, which is produced by Fremantle and Syco Entertainment, show creator Simon Cowell‘s company.

News broke on Nov. 22 that Hough and Union — 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 15th season. It has yet to be announced who will replace them.

On Nov. 26, a report by Variety claimed that while working on the show, Union expressed concerns over a joke allegedly made by guest judge Jay Leno that was later edited out of the episode.

Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty

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Along with Union’s reported allegations of racial insensitivities, both she and Hough, 31, were also subjected to “excessive notes” on their physical appearance, sources alleged in Variety‘s report. In one instance, Union was reportedly told her ever-changing hairstyles were “too black” for AGT‘s audience, while Hough reportedly received constant criticism on her hair, makeup and wardrobe.

In a statement to the publication at the time, Hough — who is set to star in two upcoming NBC Christmas specials — denied that she had a negative experience on the show and said she was “happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.”

Hough told People Now this week that she believes “everybody has a voice and should be heard,” adding, “I believe that the paradigm of the workplace and how you do business and work with people now, it’s shifting, and I think that the people that really want to see change happen are going to authentically and positively do that.”

RELATED: Elizabeth Banks and TIME’S UP Call for Change at NBC Following Gabrielle Union’s AGT Firing

A spokesperson for NBC and production company Fremantle responded to the allegations in Variety‘s report in a Nov. 26 statement to PEOPLE: “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.”

On Dec. 1, NBC, Fremantle and Syco Entertainment released the following joint statement: “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.”

Union has not yet issued an official statement directly addressing the allegations.

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