Simon Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment, released a joint statement with NBC and the production company Fremantle on Sunday about Gabrielle Union’s sudden departure from America’s Got Talent.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” said the statement. “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.”
On November 22, Union and Julianne Hough’s departure from the competitive talent show was announced, confirming they would not be returning for the next season.
Last Tuesday, November 26, Variety published an article about the “toxic culture” around America’s Got Talent. The outlet claimed Union expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations as her time as a judge on the show. One incident included a joke made by Jay Leno during a taping of the show over the summer. Leno allegedly made a joke about a painting on the wall that featured Cowell surrounded by his dogs, and the dogs looked like something “on the menu at a Korean restaurant” – the insensitive joke alluded to the stereotype that all Asian people eat dog meat. The joke was then later removed from the episode.
Another incident included that Union and Hough received several notes on their physical appearance, as reported by the exposé.
A representative for NBC and Fremantle released a statement about the claims on November 26. “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.”
Last week Union’s husband, Dwyane Wade, posted a series of tweets about his wife being fired from the show.
“‘Men lie, Women lie, numbers don’t.’ Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show,” he tweeted. “So 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.”
He also added, “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.”
“So [cheers emoji] to you @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter and for kicking ass while you were on that platform. Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world,” he concluded his series of tweets.
Since Union’s exit from the show, the star has received support from fans and celebrities, including Ellen Pompeo, Ariana Grande, and others. The actress broke her silence on Wednesday and thanked her fans, friends, and family for their support. “So many tears, so much gratitude,” Union tweeted. “THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”