Report: Gabrielle Union Spoke Up About Racism At ‘America’s Got Talent’ Before Being Fired

Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImag

In a separate report also on her firing from AGT, Union was allegedly deemed “difficult” by show creator Simon Cowell and his production team.

Following Gabrielle Union‘s ousting from America’s Got Talent after only being involved for one season, reports have surfaced providing additional information on what likely to Union and Julianne Hough’s firing from the show.

Variety first reported how Union urged producers to report a joke Jay Leno said that “was viewed as perpetuating stereotypes about Asian cultures consuming dog meat.” The joke came about during a scene where Leno noticed a painting of AGT executive producer and judge Simon Cowell surrounded by his dogs.

“The issue of reporting to human resources was specifically raised with an NBC executive on set, but several insiders said it was never escalated to that department,” Variety reported.

Another incident followed after that, where Union and other staff members “expressed concerns over a white male performer crossing a line in portraying people of color.” The performer’s routine was centered around him quickly changing costumes inside a large garment while impersonating famous singers, one of them being Beyoncé. While changing to impersonate the pop singer in his live audition tape, he put on black gloves, which Union referred to as “blackface hands.” She then recommended to a producer that the contestant be removed. His live audition tape was later cut from the episode.

The report goes on to say that Union also received a note “over half a dozen times” saying that her rotating hair styles were “too black” for America’s Got Talent‘s audience.

In a separate report from Vulture, these and other issues Union faced were mentioned, including her being labeled as “difficult” by Cowell.

Per Vulture:

Union was labeled as “difficult” by Cowell and producers of the program almost immediately, when she complained about Cowell smoking inside the Pasadena, California, theater where the show was filmed, according to sources close to the production of the show. …Union, who is allergic to cigarette smoke, was repeatedly rebuffed when she asked other staff members to request that Cowell stop smoking inside. Sources say Union was told by an NBC executive and production staff on the program that no one could stop Cowell from smoking and that previous attempts by a fire marshal and NBC executives had been unsuccessful.

The report goes on to say how Union’s “difficult” label grew, particularly during one incident where she asked contestants dressed in drag what their preferred pronouns were, “a move that seemed to annoy producers.”

Union’s displeasure with the culture of the show came to a head when she vouched for a 10-year-old rapper named Dylan Gilmer.

Per Vulture:

According to two sources, Union was told in a production meeting by producers that the show needed to pick an act “that America can get behind.” Union objected to their suggestion that a dance group from Texas made up of white contestants could be that act, as it did not receive as much of an enthusiastic reply from the audience as Gilmer, according to two sources. …She felt producers were implying that American audiences couldn’t get behind a 10-year-old black rapper, a viewpoint she felt was racist. But the decision was made to cut Gilmer from the show.

Union has yet to offer a statement on the matter, but Vulture noted that she’s “exploring her legal options against the network.”

Dwayne Wade, Union’s husband, has spoken on her firing on Twitter.

Source: Variety / Vulture

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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