America’s Got Talent investigation is over, and the results are in.
In case you forgot, actress Gabrielle Union appeared as a judge on AGT‘s 14th season alongside co-panelist Julianne Hough, Simon Cowell, and Howie Mandel. In November 2019, Union made the controversial announcement that she would not be returning to the show due to her concerns of a “toxic culture” and racial insensitivity, including remarks that her hairstyle choices were considered “too “black,” Deadline reported.
Union alleged she clashed with producers regarding a contestant whose material she found racially insensitive (although the contestant performed, it was never aired) and repeatedly asked staff members to request that Executive Producer Cowell stop smoking indoors because she is severely allergic to cigarette smoke.
In December, the network, NBC, had a meeting with the former judge to address her concerns that led to her departure with the goal of improving the culture and atmosphere. Union’s accusations promoted NBC to do a third-party investigation with producers Fremantle Media and Creator Simon Cowell’s Syco. However, the results refuted Union’s claims. The network found the show and staff “demonstrated an overall culture of diversity,” but they did admit “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 statement said. “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.”
Co-host panelist Hough also chose to leave the show. During an interview with People in December, she was asked if she would like to clear the air on her AGT departure. Hough stated, “I would just say that – my goodness. I just believe and value at the highest regard that everybody has a voice and should be heard, first and foremost,” she said. “And then I believe that the paradigm of the workplace and how you do business and work with people now, it’s shifting, and I think that the people that really want to see change happen are going to authentically and positively… do that. And so that’s all I really have to say about that.”
America’s Got Talent launched a new season this week with judges Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum. Cowell and Mandell also remain as judges.
Below is the full joint 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.”