A growing number of Hollywood insiders are voicing support for Gabrielle Union after the America’s Got Talent judge was fired for reportedly voicing concerns about the “toxic culture” at the NBC series.
The outpouring came a day after Union responded to the controversy by tweeting: “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.”
On Thursday, Shots Fired star Sanaa Lathan replied to Union: “@itsgabrielleu. You’re one of the real ones.”
Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette called the situation “terrible” and urged SAG-AFTRA to step in.
“I’m just catching up on this. This is terrible. You should not be penalized for trying to have a workplace that honors the rule of law in the workplace,” Arquette tweeted. “Where is the union? Hello??? SAG-AFTRA.”
In a series of tweets, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo called out NBC for ousting Union, yet keeping Today co-host Matt Lauer — despite years of harassment complaints — before he was finally fired in 2017.
“It’s unfortunate that @nbc the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out or not putting up with it… has not changed their practices or culture. I support @itsgabrielleu commitment to speaking up to injustice. It takes courage” Pompeo tweeted.
In a second tweet, she urged “white girls” to “stand with your sisters on the front lines.”
“This is a teaching moment… It’s important… white girls I’m talking to you… whether you truly understand what racial injustice is or not… that you stand with your sisters on the front lines. Don’t cut side deals & don’t not get involved because it isn’t your issue… because it is,” she added.
Debra Messing also called out NBC, which airs her sitcom Will & Grace, tweeting in response to Pompeo: “Thank you for this @EllenPompeo. This is disgusting behavior from a network that has been my professional home for decades. Yes, women become ‘difficult,’ when their insistence on a respectful and professional working environment, is ignored.”
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda added: “Team @itsgabrielleu, always.”
Time’s Up, the advocacy organization formed as a result of the #MeToo movement, thanked Union for “speaking up for what’s right.”
News broke last week that Union and fellow AGT judge Julianne Hough were let go after just one season.
Fellow judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel and host Terry Crews are all expected to return for season 15 in 2020. Cowell co-created America’s Got Talent and also serves as a producer.
Website LoveBScott first reported the story, saying Union was terminated for speaking up about racism and sexism at the show. The site said AGT replaces “women and blacks at Simon’s whim.”
On Tuesday, a story by Variety additionally claimed that Union had expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations, including a joke guest judge Jay Leno allegedly made referencing the stereotype of Asians eating dogs. Leno’s comment was later edited out of the show.
The team behind AGT responded to the reports by saying diversity at the show is important.
“America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” NBC and production company Fremantle said in a joint statement. “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.”
Hough, who is set to star in the NBC Christmas special Holidays with the Houghs, denied having a negative experience at the show.
“I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew, and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC,” the actress and dancer said in a statement.