Dwyane Wade backs Gabrielle Union after she exits ‘America’s Got Talent’ over reported racial issues
- Simon Cowell's company broke th eir silence on Gabrielle Union's firing from America's Got Talent on Sunday
- Syco Entertainment said they are working with Union through her representatives to hear about her concerns and take appropriate next steps
- 'We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,' statement said
- On Friday news broke that Union, 47, and fellow judge Julianne Hough were axed from the reality talent show's next season
- Her firing came after she reportedly raised concerns about racist jokes and acts on set and comments about her hair being 'too black'
Simon Cowell's company is breaking their silence on the sudden firing of Gabrielle Union from the judges panel on America's Got Talent.
Last week news broke that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough would not be returning for Season 15 of the show, however their male counterparts Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and Terry Crews would be.
It comes after reports emerged that Union expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations on set during her time as judge. In one case she reported a racist comment made by guest judge Jay Leno, which was later edited out of the show.
'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,' Syco Entertainment, which produces AGT, said in a joint statement with NBC and production company Fremantle on Sunday.
Simon Cowell's company broke their silence on Gabrielle Union's firing from America's Got Talent on Sunday saying they're communicating with her representatives and are listening to her concerns. On Friday it was announced Union would not be returning to AGT for Season 15 as a judge amid reports she expressed concerns over racially insensitive issues on set
'We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,' it added, according to People Magazine.
According to a Variety report, Union and Hough were subjected to 'excessive notes' on their physical appearance.
Union was allegedly told her changing hairstyles were 'too black' for AGT's audience. She received a note about her hair over half a dozen times, four sources told Variety.
Hough reportedly also received constant criticism on her hair, makeup and wardrobe.
That report said that during a taping of AGT over the summer Leno joked that dogs are something one would find 'on the menu at a Korean restaurant', alluding to the stereotype that all Asian people eat dog meat. Several people on set including an Asian staffer were allegedly offended by the joke.
When Union learned of the joke she allegedly urged producers to report it to NBC's human resources department, three sources told Variety. However, the issue was never addressed by HR and the joke was cut from the August 6 episode.
On another occasion Union had to speak up against racial insensitivity when a white male contestant on the show auditioned with an act where he performed racially offensive impressions of people of color.
She allegedly brought up her distaste for that act with a segment producer and an executive producer saying the audience shouldn't have to watch something so 'racially insensitive'. That act was later cut from the show.
America's Got Talent Season 14 judges Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell pictured above
Gabrielle Union breaks a sweat after being let go from AGT
Last week a spokesperson for NBC and Fremantle released a statement to People Magazine alleging Union and Hough were cut from the judge's panel to freshen up the line-up and not for behind-the-scenes issues.
'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.
Union's husband basketball star Dwyane Wade spoke out on Twitter to defend Union.
Heartfelt thanks: Gabrielle reached out to her followers to thank them for their love and support during her difficult time
Robust defense: The 37-year-old former pro basketball player took down the social media trolls
'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,' he added.
On Friday the Bring It On Star broke her silence and revealed with a heavy heart how she was coping with the firing.
'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,' she tweeted.
Gabrielle Union shimmers in silver gown on AGT red carpet
If there was question over whether or not Gabrielle Union was taken off NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” after she called out racial insensitivity on the show, her husband, retired NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, made it seem more than likely through a tweet on Wednesday.
Union, along with co-star Julienne Hough — who have only been on the show since February, will not be returning for its 15th season. But some behind the scenes drama with another co-star, comedian Jay Leno, turns out to be part of the reason.
According to Variety, Leno was taping a short segment for the show, while visiting as a guest host in April when he made joke about a painting of producer Simon Cowell, surrounded by his dogs. He cracked that they looked like they could be “on the menu at a Korean restaurant,” people who claim to have heard him told the magazine.
Union, getting wind of this, reportedly urged producers to go to NBC’s human resources department about it, saying it was important to know that the joke would be offensive. The issue did go to a network executive on the set, but never got to that department. The joke was cut from the August 6 episode.
Variety said that the incident is one of several examples of a toxic culture on the set of AGT. When the show’s season ended, Union and Hough’s contracts were not renewed, the magazine reported Friday, even though both were up for renewal.
“ ‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” said a statement from production company Fremantle USA. “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.”
Neither Union nor Leno have commented on the issue.
But Union is also reported to have gotten harsh criticism from show producers, on her hair being “too Black” for audiences, according to four anonymous sources that Variety said had knowledge of the situation. In another incident sources said Union and others were concerned over a white male performer being insensitive while impersonating several famous singers, including Beyoncé.
Union suggested that the performer be taken from the lineup, but producers blew her off. After pressing further, though, his live audition was removed. Blogger Love B. Scott wrote last weekend that Union was removed from the show over her complaints over a “problematic” environment.
Wade, in support of his wife, sent a follow up tweet praising her for the job she did on the show.