“America’s Got Talent” is on the firing line in social media after a report from Variety focused on Gabrielle Union’s exit from the popular show after this past season.
The Tuesday report from Variety provided a number of accounts from network insiders on some of the conversations that allegedly led up to Union’s exit.
Variety reported that several sources indicated Union, who was a judge during the 14th season, received constant feedback about her appearance on the NBC show. Four sources told the magazine that Union was frequently told that her hairstyles on the show were “too black.”
But one source pushed back against the claim, Variety reported, and said Union received critiques about her hair only for continuity purposes during the filming of the show.
Sources said another judge on the show, Julianne Hough, often received critiques about her appearance as well.
Hough, who has two shows with NBC set to be released soon, rejected the claims, telling Variety, “I had a wonderful time on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ I loved working with the cast, crew and producers.”
A number of sources also said Union complained about racism on more than one occasion during the show’s production.
One of her allegations involved comedian Jay Leno. According to Variety, Leno shot a segment for the show’s 14th season as a guest judge in April.
Sources said that Leno made a joke during the segment about a painting of Simon Cowell, who serves as an executive producer and judge on the show, and his dogs. The insiders alleged that the comedian joked that the dogs looked like they could have been “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”
Union allegedly expressed concerns about the joke, which had reportedly been removed from the segment by the time it aired.
The actress also allegedly spoke up about an incident in which a white contestant made his hands look black while impersonating Beyoncé Knowles for an audition.
Union declined to comment to Variety about the allegations, her husband, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, defended his wife on Twitter and claimed she was fired.
“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,” Wade wrote on Twitter.
“As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— I am even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US,” he said in a later tweet. And then in another, “So [cheers] to you @itsgabrielleu on not losing sight of the lessons we’ve talked about teaching our daughter and for kicking ass while you were on that platform. Number 1 judge on one of the biggest shows in the world‼️”