Gabrielle Union's reported exit as a judge on America's Got Talent has led to further claims of the show's "toxic culture," which was allegedly the reason for her departure. Now, new information has been released alleging that, prior to her firing, Union was constantly criticized for rotating hairstyles that were "too Black" for the show's audience.
As previously reported, the LA Finest star was axed from the show after speaking out against some "problematic" situations that were taking place behind the scenes, including instances of racism, sexism and more.
More context has since been unveiled with Variety reporting that Union and her co-star Julianne Hough, who was also terminated, received "excessive notes on their physical appearance," which eventually led to hostility with the production team.
While insiders claim that both women received repeated criticism of their hair, makeup and wardrobe choices, Union, in particular, was allegedly told her hairstyles were "too Black" for the America's Got Talent audience.
Union reportedly received this critique "over half a dozen times."
The publication added that while the actress declined to comment on the matter, Hough released a statement denying the claims, saying, "I had a wonderful time on America's Got Talent. I loved working with the cast, crew and producers."
Elsewhere in the report were claims that Union witnessed two "racially insensitive" incidents that left her concerned. One of the alleged moments took place during the audition taping of the latest season when a white male contestant impersonated numerous famous singers, including Beyoncé. Insiders claim that though he "blacked up" his hands during the routine, he was still allowed to perform in front of the live audience. Union and other staff members protested against it, but the producers reportedly allowed it to continue.
Both moments were removed in editing.
New York Magazine contributor Yashar Ali also posted some information regarding the racist decisions that were being made behind-the-scenes, which Union tried to object to.
He explained that the actress and now former judge was told that 10-year-old Black rapper Dylan Gilmer could not be picked for the competition because they needed a contestant "America could get behind." During that same discussion, a South African choir was reportedly brought up, with judge Howie Mandel reportedly saying, "Maybe they can sing something from The Lion King."
The site further reports that, though the show's ratings have steadily declined for at least three years, "its social media presence has doubled since Union and Hough replaced longtime female judges Melanie Brown and model-host Heidi Klum." Approximately half of the 18-episode season, which wrapped in September, engaged directly with Union, according to figures from Nielsen Social, making her the most popular judge on the series.
Representatives for NBC have declined to comment.
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