After Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough's exit from America's Got Talent, Variety released a report detailing alleged toxic and racist behaviour behind the scenes at NBC that contributed to their departure. Celebrities spoke out in defense of Union, whose hair was reportedly repeatedly criticized for being "too black," and who reportedly spoke up after a racist incident involving guest judge Jay Leno, but Hough remained neutral in a statement to Variety. However, when talking to People Now, she got a bit more detailed about her take on their exit and the allegations against NBC.
“I would just say that — my goodness. I just believe and value at the highest regard that everybody has a voice and should be heard, first and foremost,” she said. “And then I believe that the paradigm of the workplace and how you do business and work with people now, it’s shifting, and I think that the people that really want to see change happen are going to authentically and positively … do that. And so that’s all I really have to say about that.”
NBC maintains that their show "has a long history of inclusivity and diversity" and told Variety in a statement that "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."
Simon Cowell's production company Syco Entertainment also released a statement, per Fortune, saying that they "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."
Union has only responded publicly on Twitter with a statement thanking fans, as well as retweeting messages of support.
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 ❤— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) November 28, 2019
Reps for Union and Hough did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.