Following last week’s report that Gabrielle Union was fired from America’s Got Talent after expressing concerns over several racist incidents on set, SAG-AFTRA has launched an official investigation into her exit. The news also follows statements from high-profile actors like Debra Messing and Ellen Pompeo who spoke out in defense of Union over Thanksgiving weekend.
Deadline reports that sources within SAG-AFTRA claim the union “recognizes what a high profile and probably high wire act this is” as the official investigation moves forward. In a statement, SAG-AFTRA told the outlet: “We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.” The union also explained that investigations into Union’s claims “need to happen independently,” citing that all enforcement actions are “handled confidentially to protect the member involved.”
Conversely, NBC and AGT producers Freemantle and the Simon Cowell owned Syco put out a separate statement on Sunday, telling Deadline:
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
The company previously claimed it has a “long history of inclusivity and diversity” when Variety first reported the series of racist incidents Union and AGT crew allegedly endured on set, like Union being told her hairstyles were “too black” for America and the presence of a white contestant who changed the color of his skin to impersonate Beyoncé. Vulture also reported allegations that Union tried to stop production from misgendering contestants.
Meanwhile, a host of celebrities have spoken out in defense of Union. A day after the Variety report, Ellen Pompeo tweeted a series of statements on the firing, linking it to NBC’s past support of Matt Lauer amid allegations of sexual abuse:
In another tweet, Pompeo calls out white women who don’t “stand with your sisters on the front lines” and “cut side deals.” While she didn’t specifically name any actresses in the tweet, it could likely have been directed at Julianne Hough. After being fired alongside Union, Hough told 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.” She has two Christmas specials at the network airing later this month.