“It just was not my experience,” the NBC series’ host, 51, told Us Weekly exclusively on Thursday, January 23. “It was the best experience I ever had in my entire life.”
Crews went on to address whether he saw issues with diversity behind the scenes. “When they talk about diversity, there was every bit of diversity on set, everywhere,” he insisted. “I have never been in a more diverse place in 20 years of entertainment, so what can I say?”
Reports of a “toxic culture” on the show surfaced in November 2019 after judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough’s contracts were not renewed following season 14. Variety claimed at the time that the Being Mary Jane alum, 47, reported an offensive joke made by guest Jay Leno to producers. The incident reportedly was not brought to human resources, however.
The L.A.’s Finest star also allegedly received multiple complaints from staff members that her hairstyles were “too black” for the audience.
Union later broke her silence regarding the ordeal. “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU,” she tweeted in November 2019. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”
Her husband, Dwyane Wade, spoke out too. “Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show,” the basketball player, 38, tweeted. “So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!? I am 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.”
Hough, meanwhile, denied allegations that her physical appearance was criticized by the staff. “I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent. I loved working with the cast, crew and producers,” she said in a statement to Variety. “I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC. … I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”
As for the network, NBC and production company Fremantle told Us in a statement in November 2019: “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.”
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi
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