Ariana Grande And Ellen Pompeo Break Their Silence Over Gabrielle Union’s Firing From ‘America’s Got Talent’
American actress Gabrielle Union has had a 26-year long career in the entertainment industry. As a Black woman, the 47-year old actress has proven to be one of the most successful actors in her industry. She started her carer in minor roles working her way up from teen movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” to lead roles in films like “Bring it On” and “Deliver Us From Eva.” In recent years, she has also put herself at the forefront of activist movements in and outside of entertainment, speaking up for survivors of assault and frequently commenting on events that have sparked Black Lives Matter interests. When it comes to race, the actress has been particularly vocal. That’s why when reports that the actress had been fried from her work on the show “America’s Got Talent” we weren’t too surprised when it was reported that it was because she had vocalized concerns about racist incidents that had occurred on set.
According to recent reports, Union was let go from her role as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” after she spoke out against racism that had occurred on set.
According to Variety, Union’s firing comes at the hands of two incidents out of several in particular. One included a complaint by Union after comedian Jay Leno made a racist joke about Koreans. According to Variety “in April of this year, former late-night host Jay Leno visited NBCUniversal in Los Angeles to appear as a guest judge on the network’s unscripted program “America’s Got Talent,” a variety show that seeks out undiscovered musicians, performers, and other quirky artists. 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.”
The joke, which perpetuated stereotypes about Asian cultures consuming dog meat, reportedly upset Union who told producers to report the joke to human resources at NBC. Variety says in their report the incident was “never escalated to that department.”
Other outlets have reported that Union had received numerous notes about her physical appearance including criticism of her hair. According to Variety, “Union was subjected to a very specific critique — that her rotating hairstyles were “too black” for the audience of “AGT,” a note she received over half a dozen times, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the exchanges who spoke on the condition of anonymity. One network insider disputed the volume of notes, saying there was only feedback about hair continuity for both judges.”
While Union has yet to give a statement about the incidents, other actors are speaking out on her behalf and SAG-AFTRA has reportedly launched an official investigation into her exit.
According to a report by Deadline, sources within SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) ” take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.”
In response to the news, actress such as Debra Messing and Ellen Pompeo and singer Ariana Grande have spoken in defense of Union.
In a seperate tweet about the incident, Pompeo called out white actresses for not standing “with your sisters on the front lines” and “cut side deals.” While she never named any actresses in particular many have speculated that she was speaking about Julianne Hough, who worked with Union on the series and was also fired recently. However in a recent statement to Variety claimed that she “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.”
In a seperate tweet of her own, Grande thanked Pompeo for highlighting the incident and encouraged NBC to “be better.”
Hough is set to star alongside her brother in two Christmas specials for the network this month including “Holidays With the Houghs.”