“America’s Got Talent” producers and NBC announced that an outside investigation into Gabrielle Union’s dismissal from the series has been completed and dismissed most of the former judge’s accusations that the show and its producers created a racist and generally “toxic” culture.
“Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time,” the statement read, in part. “The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract.”
The investigation did find “some areas in which reporting processes could be improved,” the statement from NBC and show producers Fremantle and Syco conceded.
Below is the full statement from NBC, Fremantle and Syco.
We have a shared passion to make “America’s Got Talent” a positive, inclusive and diverse show that is open to all individuals from any country or background. We are proud and grateful that our contestants and audiences support our ongoing mission, which is represented in the incredible people who participate in the show each year. We have heard from contestants and talent alike that their experience on “AGT” has had a positive impact on their lives. When we heard Ms. Union had concerns about her time on the show, we took them extremely seriously.
NBC, Fremantle and Syco immediately engaged an outside investigator who conducted more than 30 interviews to review the issues raised by Ms. Union. While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved.
Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time. The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract.
NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union’s dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding “AGT” as one of the most diverse programs on television.
In a Variety cover story published Wednesday, Union reiterated her complaints about her treatment on the show and the challenges of speaking up publicly about them: “There are some people who want the wheels of change to come to a grinding halt because they feel that their privilege is being challenged.”
A person familiar with the investigation told TheWrap that while Union has asked the outside investigator to follow up on a few issues, those specific items would not materially change the findings.
The investigation began in November. Since it launched, Union has met with NBC and producers to discuss her accusations.
Union’s “Got Talent” contract was not renewed following several behind-the-scenes incidents and what producers described as “difficult” behavior. According to Vulture, which first reported the rift, Union complained about judge Simon Cowell smoking indoors, a remark during taping by guest judge Jay Leno she deemed to be a racist that did not make it to air, and the misgendering of contestants.
In addition, Vulture reported that Union had supported a 10-year-old African American rapper before being told that the show needed “an act America can get behind.” Union also said that producers complained some of her hairstyles were “too black.”
Fellow judge Julianne Hough was let go at the same time as Union. New judge Sofia Vergara and the returning Heidi Klum have replaced Hough and Union for the next season of the show.