Gabrielle Union has a message for African American women in the entertainment industry.
“Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid,” Union said Monday at a panel discussion in New York City during the launch for her New York & Company holiday collection, according to Variety.
The actress, who was recently fired from her job as a judge on America’s Got Talent after she reportedly complained about the alleged “toxic” culture at the show, encouraged women to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means losing a job.
“Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job… I speak from experience,” she added.
Union didn’t mention AGT by name, but she did talk about how to confront workplace inequality.
“I’m asking you to do the impossible. I am asking you to put yourself out there on a limb. I’m fully aware that job loss is on the table when you’re that person, and sometimes you can work low-key, back-door things and kind of take your head off the chopping block, but if you’re not doing it, then nobody is,” she said.
Union was joined by entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman, stylist Solange Franklin, model and activist Ebonee Davis and co-founder of Plus Model Mag Maddy Jones at the event called “Power of Inclusivity and the Women Leading the Charge.”
The actress and entrepreneurs’ public comments came after her AGT contract was terminated last month.
Fellow judge Julianne Hough was also let go from the NBC series after one season, although the actress and dancer said in a statement she had “a wonderful time” on the show and will continue her “working relationship with NBC.”