Gabrielle Union’s reason for her departure from America’s Got Talent comes after the actress reported a racist joke on set, according to Variety.
As reported previously, the actress and her fellow judge, Julianne Hough, won’t be returning as judges after both their contracts weren’t renewed. The duo replaced Spice Girl’s Melaine “Mel B” Brown and supermodel Heidi Klum for the 14th season of the show.
Variety alleged Union was dismissed from her spot as judge after she urged the producers of the competition series to report an offensive joke made by guest star Jay Leno to human resources. The outlet claimed Leno cracked a joke about a painting on display of Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and judge, surrounded by his dogs. “Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find ‘on the menu at a Korean restaurant,'” as reported by Variety. “The joke was viewed as perpetuating stereotypes about Asian cultures consuming dog meat.”
Sources also revealed to Variety that the Bring It On star’s argued “that production needed to understand why the joke might offend the staff and audience of ‘AGT'” and “the issue of reporting to human resources was specifically raised with an NBC executive on set,” but “was never escalated to that department.”
The offensive line was cut from the episode before it aired on August 6.
The magazine also claimed that “the Leno incident is one of several examples of what insiders called a toxic culture at the show.”
“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,” NBC and Fremantle told Us Weekly in a statement on Tuesday, November 26.
At this time, the actress has not publicly commented on the report.