With the shocking news that Gabrielle Union was fired from America’s Got Talent for speaking out about racism and sexism on set, even more shocking details are coming out into the light.
According to Variety, the 47-year-old actress and her white co-host Julianne Hough were given excessive notes about their appearance. But one note Union kept getting was especially problematic. Sources told the publication that she was told by her higher-ups more than half a dozen times that her changing her hairstyles so often was “too Black for their audience.”
AGT officials deny the number of notes and that exact language, telling Variety it was only one time and they said her versatile looks may confuse the audience.
That, and Hough denied these accounts as well, telling Variety, “I had a wonderful time on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.”
Now, Hough may be trying to protect her coins or could be wrapped in an NDA, but we do know that she has two upcoming shows on NBC including “Holidays With the Houghs,” and “Christmas in Rockefeller Center.”
In addition, Variety reported that Union spoke openly about the inappropriate and toxic behavior she witnessed while working on the show which included former talk-show host Jay Leno making a joke about Koreans eating dogs, which prompted Union to suggest that HR get looped in.
On the second floor of a production building on the North Hollywood lot, Leno taped an interstitial segment in the presence of show judges including Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough. While taping, Leno made a crack about a painting on display in a hallway 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,” four people present for the taping told Variety.
That part of the segment was deleted from the show, as was another video of a white performer who was dressing up as multiple characters, including Beyonce. Union complained that the performance was rooted in racist and sexist stereotypes of Black women.
Now, Union is out of a job. But it’s important to note, that while the show’s ratings have been declining for three years, Union was the most popular judge. Variety noted:
The show’s social media presence has doubled since Union and Hough replaced longtime female judges Melanie Brown (of Spice Girls fame) and model-host Heidi Klum. The 18-episode season that wrapped in September generated 25 million social media impressions, approximately half of which engaged directly with Union, according to figures from Nielsen Social, effectively making her the most popular judge.
(Even when we’re twice as good and try to do the right thing, as Black women in the workplace we still find ourselves getting the short end of the damn stick. That, and based on the notes about her hair, her firing could actually be in violation with the CROWN ACT, which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of how you choose to wear your hair. But time will only tell if that relates to her situation.)
While Union hasn’t released a public statement about her dismissal or these reports, her husband, Dwyane Wade, took to Twitter to express his disgust with and confirm his wife’s termination.
“So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!? Iam 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.”
Here’s what we know: We gotta protect Gabrielle at all costs, and Twitter agrees. Here’s what folks had to say about this new revelations: