Gabrielle Union and America’s Got Talent made headlines when Union and Julianne Hough got fired. While Hough did not have issues with America’s Got Talent or NBC Universal, Union spoke out against a toxic workplace. The original report claims that Union was criticized for her hair, clothing, and demeanor for being “too black” and also reported guest judge Jay Leno for making a racist joke.
At the time, NBC released a statement 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 lineup 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.”
Since then, Union and NBC have been in talks to get to the bottom of the situation, and NBC released another statement saying:
“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.”
Since the investigation began, reports have pointed to Simon Cowell, host and show creator, to being the main cause of the toxic environment. He has since lawyered up.
So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever ❤
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) November 28, 2019
The investigation into Union’s firing is far from over, and former judge Heidi Klum weighs in on the drama, and she is taking Simon Cowell‘s side. Klum is promoting her new Amazon series Making The Cut at the elevision Critics Association (TCA) press tour, and she explained that she had a very different experience than the one Union is describing.
“I can’t speak for [Gabrielle]. I didn’t experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”
When asked if she witnessed any racism during her time at America’s Got Talent, she couldn’t recall anything.
Klum continued, explaining that Cowell liked to joke, but that they were just jokes.
“If there’s a girl on stage and she’s a beautiful girl … and I said, ‘I didn’t love the act so much, I think you’re gorgeous and this and that,’ and he’s like, ‘Meow,’ I think that’s funny, because I understand the joke, because normally girls are catty and it’s like, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t like the girl on the stage because she’s beautiful.’ But, like, relax! It’s a joke.”
Is it shocking that a white supermodel had a different experience than her black costar? It shouldn’t be, but Klum doesn’t seem to recognize that distinction.
Klum will return as a host for the Champions spinoff of America’s Got Talent.