Sheryl Underwood Addresses Why She Didn't Answer Sharon Osbourne's Texts as The Talk Returns
Monday's episode of the daytime talk show — the first since Osbourne's exit — featured remaining co-hosts Underwood, Carrie Ann Inaba, Amanda Kloots and Elaine Welteroth discussing "race and healing" with diversity, equity, inclusion and justice expert Dr. Donald E. Grant. Life coach Dr. Anita Phillips also made an appearance to explore how to heal after a painful event or conversation.
Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the latest drama from The Talk.
The broadcast opened with a message from Underwood, 57, recorded backstage. "It's time for an episode of The Talk that will be unlike any other we've had before," she said. "As you may know, during our break, Sharon decided to leave The Talk. We need to process the events of that day and what happened since, so we can get to the healing."
"Over the next hour, we will honestly discuss what occurred and explore some of our feelings. And we'll also show you how anyone can become more comfortable discussing important issues and having difficult conversations," she continued. "By the end of the hour, we want everyone to feel empowered and ready to move forward."
Asked to reflect on the difficult conversation she had with Osbourne a month ago, Underwood said she hadn't wanted "to escalate things" in the moment.
"I thought I was having a conversation with a friend, but also I knew I had to be an example," she said, noting that she "didn't want to be perceived as the angry Black woman."
"I wanted to remain calm and remain focused, and it's difficult to go back to that day because I just feel the trauma," she said, going on to say she felt "trapped" during the conversation, during which Osbourne asked Underwood to "educate" her and warned her not to cry.
Welteroth, who was present during the exchange in question, also shared her thoughts. "When you go back and watch what happened in that episode, you will see two Black women walking the same tightrope that Black women are walking every single day in the workplace," she said.
"We knew that we had to stay composed in that situation, even in the face of someone who was A, not listening, and B, who went off the rails into disrespect," she continued.
Both women also took a moment to address the "false accusations" that have been lobbed against them, framing them as having "attacked a woman on air" as "part of some kind of conspiracy." (Osbourne previously claimed CBS executives set up the conversation and "blindsided" her.)
"That is absolutely categorically false. And I think it's really important that people hear that," said Welteroth, 34.
Underwood also addressed the text messages Osbourne sent her and why she didn't respond, noting that CBS' investigation was underway at the time. (During a recent three-part series on her podcast titled "Sharon Walks Away," Underwood said Osbourne had not called her, and that the two hadn't spoken. Osbourne, who insisted she had reached out to Underwood, then shared screenshots of text messages she sent her.)
"I want to clear something up. There was a discussion about Sharon and I communicating with each other," Underwood said on Monday. "I have not spoken to [her], and do not have any phone call, missed or received, that I can find in my phone [from her]."
"But there were text messages sent to me," she added, noting that she didn't "speak about or acknowledge those text messages" because she wasn't sure whether she was allowed to communicate with Osbourne amid the network's investigation.
As for what their relationship might look like in the future, Underwood said it would depend on Osbourne's behavior.
"People have asked me, 'Well, if you see Sharon, what would you do?' If she greeted me warmly and sincerely, I would give her back the same, because we've been on this show for 10 years," Underwood said. "I want people to understand when you're friends with somebody you stay friends. And what did Maya Angelou say? When people show you who they are, believe them."
"The first time," added Welteroth, as Underwood replied, "Real talk."
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The Talk initially went on a two-day hiatus last month before the break was extended for a full week as CBS continued their internal investigation into the matter. The show was scheduled to return March 22 but was put on hold again.
The first hiatus came after the March 10 broadcast of the show, when Osbourne defended friend Piers Morgan following the backlash for his controversial remarks questioning the validity of Meghan Markle's revelations about her mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Her defense led to the intense exchange with Underwood, who pushed back on Osbourne's downplaying of Morgan's comments.
"I very much feel like I'm about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend, who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist?" Osbourne asked while on the verge of tears.
Underwood said that while Morgan was not overtly racist, she found it hard to understand why Osbourne was defending him so fiercely, telling her, "It is not the exact words of racism, it's the implication and the reaction to it."
Two days after the broadcast, Osbourne apologized for her "panicked" remarks. Two weeks later, on March 26, CBS announced that she would be stepping away from The Talk and it would return without her on April 12.
"The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon's behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace," the network said in a statement at the time. "We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts."
"At the same time, we acknowledge the Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race," the statement continued. "During this week's hiatus, we are coordinating workshops, listening sessions and training about equity, inclusion and cultural awareness for the hosts, producers and crew. Going forward, we are identifying plans to enhance the producing staff and producing procedures to better serve the hosts, the production and, ultimately, our viewers."
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Since the on-air dispute with Underwood, Osbourne has been accused of additional instances of racism, homophobia and bullying on the set of The Talk, all of which she has denied.
On March 16, journalist Yashar Ali published a report alleging that Osbourne used racial slurs while referring to her former The Talk co-host Julie Chen, citing multiple unnamed sources and another former co-host, Leah Remini.
Ali's report also claimed Osbourne referred to former co-host and executive producer Sara Gilbert, who is lesbian, as "p---- licker" and "fish eater."
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