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Gabrielle Union poses for photographers

Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Being Dismissed From 'America's Got Talent'

Gettyimages | Frazer Harrison
By Chris Barilla

For the first time since her controversial dismissal from hit television show 'America's Got Talent,' Gabrielle Union is speaking out about the circumstances that brought about the highly-publicized situation. Allegedly removed from the show for exposing instances of racism and toxicity in its work environment, Union is now speaking out in a new Variety interview about exactly what transpired during her famed removal from the talent competition, as well as the steps she is taking at a personal level to make Hollywood a more "inclusive" place.

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Gabrielle Union poses for photographers
Gettyimages | Gregg DeGuire

"There were so many spaces in this industry where I had to compartmentalize myself to feel like I was worthy of work," Union told the publication during the highly candid interview.

"In my 40s, I embraced myself exactly as I am. I wanted to create projects and be a part of things, to have personal and professional relationships that brought me peace, joy, grace and allowed for compassion," Union continued to explain, saying that the was open to furthering the positive aspects of her life.

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When Union joined the cast of "America's Got Talent,' she claimed she was excited to work on a new "super diverse" set that would help champion her personal ideologies, however after the conclusion of her first season fellow judge Julianne Hough and her were removed from the program. Soon after, rumors came around that their removal from the program was directly due to the fact that Union was speaking out against "toxic" workplace behavior, specifically host Simon Cowell's tendencies to smoke indoors on set.

Gabrielle Union smiles for photographers
Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GabrielleUnionFeb09.jpg

"I couldn’t escape. I ended up staying sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lingered, and turned into bronchitis, because I couldn’t shake it. It impacted my voice, which affects my ability to do my job," Union said of her working relationship with Cowell and how his constant smoking affected her health.

However, a spokesperson for Cowell told 'Variety' that, "When he was directly informed of the smoking complaint during the first couple of days of the season, he immediately changed his behavior and the issue was never raised again."

Gabrielle Union smiles for photographers
Gettyimages | Frazer Harrison

Beyond that instance, Union explained a time when television host Jay Leno came on the show and made a racist remark about Asian people eating dogs, saying, "I gasped. I froze. Other things had already happened, but at this point, it was so wildly racist."

Beyond those comments, Union doubled down on her overall goal in Hollywood, "At the end of all this, my goal is real change — and not just on this show but for the larger parent company. It starts from the top down. My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace."

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