Gabrielle Union was allegedly deemed “difficult” by America’s Got Talent show creator Simon Cowell and his production team.
While speaking at a female empowerment and inclusivity panel at the launch of her holiday collection with New York & Company, Union spoke at length about addressing workplace inequalities, according to Variety. The panel was called, Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge.
Giving advice on being a leader in the workplace, Union said, “Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid. Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job … I speak from experience,” she quipped, though never mentioning “America’s Got Talent.”
“Do your best because corporations want global dollars,” Union continued. “Do your best to try to hold the door open and hold people responsible. Yeah, I’m asking you to do the impossible … I’m fully aware that job loss is on the table … but if you’re not doing it, nobody is.”
During the panel, Union was also asked about the challenges of being a leader, to which she replied:
When you’re a follower, often you’re not being led by the right person,” Union elaborated. “This is not what paradise or salvation looks like to me. You’re using me to prop up fraudulent systems … I want no part of that, so I’d rather lead, even if I don’t know where the hell I’m going … As long as I have air in my lungs, I will always try to cover us all and I will certainly try to center the needs of the most marginalized.”
Union did not explicitly say the name of the NBC series during the speaking event. The actress has yet to formally address her leave from America’s Got Talent. It was previously reported that she had spoke out on racism and other issues that came about on the set of the show before being fired.
Union is exploring legal options against NBC.