NBC has responded to allegations made by Gabrielle Union of a "toxic" work environment on the America's Got Talent set following her departure from the show last year.
A statement issued by NBC reads, "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 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."
The outside investigation also found 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."
In a Variety interview this week, Gabrielle Union-Wade opened up about her experience on the America's Got Talent set.
Union spoke about the "toxic work environment" she experienced on the NBC set. She and fellow judge Julianne Hough left the show in December.
“I signed up for the experience of being a part of a show that hails itself as the biggest stage in the world. Super diverse, and one about giving people an opportunity to shine where they otherwise probably wouldn’t,” Union told Variety.
The Bring It On actress said that “coming onto a set and you are literally met with the very definition of a toxic work environment, and it’s being carried out by the most powerful person on the production.”
Union, 47, spoke up about Simon Cowell’s smoking, as she is severely allergic to the smoke - however, she alleges that nothing was done about it.
She said, "I couldn’t escape. I ended up staying sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lingered, and turned into bronchitis, because I couldn’t shake it. It impacted my voice, which affects my ability to do my job." She also said her runny nose upset Howie Mandel, who sat next to her and has been open about his OCD as well as being "Hollywood's biggest germaphobe."
She also spoke about her experiences with Jay Leno, who she said made a controversial joke about Cowell's dogs and said the animals looked like food items at a Korean restaurant.
Union explained, "I’ve always held him in high regard, but I was not prepared for his joke,” Union says. “I gasped. I froze. Other things had already happened, but at this point, it was so wildly racist.” She was upset when nothing happened and the joke was edited out.
She also spoke about how the show did not have a standing policy for using contestants’ preferred pronouns. Her husband Dwayne Wade's daughter Zaya recently came out as transgender.
“We’re doing a show that is talking about a global audience, and we’re not even asking for preferred pronouns? We should never be put in a position where we are guessing, not when we know better,” she said.
She went on to speak about Zaya and said, "We’re just loving and accepting our kids, which is not revolutionary."