Gabrielle Union Says 'America's Got Talent' Drama Felt Like a 'Public Flogging'
By Jennifer Drysdale
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images
Gabrielle Union is sharing more about her time on America's Got Talentand the "brutal" process she went through while leaving the show. During her appearance on the "Minding Her Business" panel for the 2020 American Black Film Festival on Sunday, Union counted her departure from AGT among the most difficult parts of her Hollywood career -- and said the drama surrounding it felt like "such a public flogging."
"Probably the AGT of it all was so surprising and so heartbreaking and so frustrating and so unnecessary. That would be probably the hardest part [of my time in the industry]," Union said, per USA Today.
The actress continued, sharing the situation was also difficult because it felt "like such a public flogging and just standing in my truth and standing on the side of employee rights and knowing there's a better way of doing business."
"But that whole process was really brutal and knowing that I brought my team into that, it just sucked," she added.
It was revealed in November 2019 that neither Gabrielle Union nor Julianne Hough would be returning to judge America's Got Talent after just one season with the competition series. While the show claimed the women's departures were a result of routine cycling of the judges' table, Variety reported that Union was let go following her concerns over a "toxic culture" at AGT.
NBC and Fremantle, the production company behind AGT, said they had a "long history of inclusivity" and that they were taking the concerns seriously. Union's husband, Dwyane Wade, claimed his wife was fired. "If anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture," he wrote, in part.
Union continued discussions with NBC and Fremantle over the changes she'd like to see at AGT to combat workplace harassment and discrimination.
Union later filed a discrimination complaint against NBC, Simon Cowell, Fremantle and Syco Entertainment with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The complaint has since been closed, as Union requested an immediate right to sue, which she was granted. The complaint was made after NBC conducted an independent investigation into her claims.
The actress told Variety in May that she struggled with the decision to speak out about her concerns. "I had to look at myself and say, 'Do you want to keep it easy? Or do you want to be you, and stand up?'" she recalled. "Because I'm not the only one being poisoned at work."
"At the end of all this, my goal is real change -- and not just on this show but for the larger parent company," Union added. "It starts from the top down. My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace."