WRITTEN BY: CECILIE BREE WILKINS
Gabrielle Union’s exit from “America’s Got Talent” has shaken up television as news broke that the decision was not amicable, and instead that Union was removed after questioning a toxic culture behind the scenes. Many celebrities have since spoken up for Union, supporting her courage in calling out offensive behavior.
It was announced that Gabrielle Union would not be returning for another season at “America’s Got Talent,” a decision which was initially reported to be Union’s. It was later reported by many other outlets that the reason for Union’s exit was the result of a firing, brought on by Union’s consistent challenging of “problematic” behavior on set. Many instances of which brought Union in conflict with Simon Cowell, executive producer of the show.
One instance in particular involved a racially insensitive joke by Jay Leno. Reportedly, when Leno was a guest judge on the show, he joked that a painting of five dogs, which belonged to Cowell “looked like something on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”
Union also reportedly caused tension with producers when she asked drag performers what their preferred pronouns were to ensure contestants were never misgendered.
Union was also reportedly critiqued for her appearance, specifically hairstyles, which producers allegedly described as being “too black.”
Union met her breaking point when producers forced contestant, Dylan Gilmer, a black 10-year-old rapper, to be cut from the show. Producers reportedly cut Gilmer, despite strong audience support for the performer, in favor of an all-white dance group, which they described as an act that “America can get behind.”
Since more details regarding Union’s controversial exit have surfaced, celebrities have rallied around her in support.
Jameela Jamil, actor who stars on NBC’s “The Good Place,” said, “I am lucky to work with really good people at @nbc and am sad and angry to know this has been going on in that same network. I stand with @itsgabrielleu.”
Ellen Pompeo, the star of “Grey’s Anatomy” commented on the network’s decision in a series of tweets.
“Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women. If you go for self in these moments you undermine the work we are out here trying to do. Obviously this network feels like they can operate like this and it’s okay,” she said. “… I support @itsgabrielleu commitment to speaking up to injustice. It takes courage.”
Even singer, Ariana Grande, chimed in, stating, “Thank you for this @EllenPompeo. be better @nbc we’re with you @itsgabrielleu.”
Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade, even took to Twitter to say, “… When i got the news that my wife was being fired — my first question was obviously why!? I am still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture. As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US.”
NBC has since responded to backlash, stating, “we remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the statement from the AGT producers read. “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.”
Photo Source: Deadline