Gabrielle Union is leaving her America’s Got Talent chair behind, but Love B. Scott is reporting that her departure from the NBC show came after the actress reported a racist joke on set.
As previously reported, Union, 47, and her fellow judge, Julianne Hough, are both out of a job on the series, after their contracts weren’t renewed. They replaced Spice Girls’ Melanie “Mel B” Brown and model Heidi Klum for the 14th season of the competition series.
Variety claims the Bring It On star was let go after she urged producers to report an offensive joke made by guest star Jay Leno to human resources. The outlet claims that the former Tonight Show host made a joke in a segment about series creator and judge Simon Cowell’s dogs being “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”
Sources told Variety that Union argued that the joke was offensive to staff and audience members, but it was not reported to HR. The line was cut from the episode when it aired on August 6, but Variety claims it was one incident in what insiders describe as a “toxic culture” at the show.
“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,” NBC and Fremantle told Us Weekly in a statement on Tuesday.
Union has not publicly commented on the report, but on Friday, November 22, the same day news broke of her AGT departure, she posted an Instagram video of her daughter, Kaavia, 1, with a caption that many think is her response to the firing.
“Melanin Queens. Be you. Stand up for yourself and anyone being oppressed or beaten down,” she wrote on Instagram, tagging “Love” as the video’s location. “Stand tall. Speak up. Live loud and proud. Be fearless. Do not be silenced, We gotchu my loves, we gotchu. Lift us all up in the light of goodness and please hold us there. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ Thank you guys for the perfect anthem @ciara @lala @lupitanyongo City Girls @esterdean #MelaninQueen 🎼🎵🎶.”
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