SAG-AFTRA is officially opening an investigation into America’s Got Talent. On Monday, December 2, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists confirmed to In Touch that they are looking into the competition program. The investigation is related to reports that actress and judge Gabrielle Union was fired for speaking up about a racist joke.
“We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously,” a spokesperson for the guild told In Touch. “We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.”
They continued, “For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted. Our enforcement action is usually handled confidentially to protect the member involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the member requests that we do so.” So far, SAG-AFTRA hasn’t turned up anything that they’re ready to share with the public. “While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now,” the spokesperson said.
On November 26, Variety broke the news that Gabrielle’s contract may not have been renewed because she urged producers to report a racist joke. According to the outlet, the Bring It On actress was upset by a comment made by Jay Leno while he was a guest judge on the show. Though the gag was cut from the episode, the actress wanted to bring it to the attention of the production team’s Human Resources department. The media company reported that the incident was just one of many that made up a “toxic culture” at the show.
NBC and the series’ production company, Fremantle, denied Variety‘s reports. “America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” they told Us Weekly that same day. “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.”
The star’s husband, however, spoke out on her behalf. Basketball player Dwyane Wade took to Twitter on November 27 to write, “‘Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.’ 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 or sincerity on the show. … 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. …. As proud as I [was] 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.”
So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever ❤
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) November 28, 2019
Gabrielle has also spoken out. “So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU!” she wrote on November 27. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone … You got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever. ❤”
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