Gabrielle Union Opens Up About Her "Heartbreaking" America's Got Talent Experience

During an appearance at the American Black Film Festival, Gabrielle Union looked back on her exit from America’s Got Talent.

By Mike Vulpo Aug 24, 2020 6:39 PMTags
Watch: Gabrielle Union: "AGT" Exit Investigation Results

Gabrielle Union won't soon forget her experience working on America's Got Talent.

Over the weekend, the businesswoman and actress participated in the "Minding Her Business" panel for the 2020 American Black Film Festival. While discussing some of the lessons she's learned in her Hollywood career, Gabrielle couldn't help but address one of her most recent gigs.

"Probably the AGT of it all was so surprising and so heartbreaking and so frustrating and so unnecessary," Gabrielle shared via USA Today. "That would be probably the hardest part [of my time in the industry]." 

According to the publication, the former judge said that her experience behind the scenes led to her "feeling like such a public flogging and just standing in my truth and standing on the side of employee rights and knowing there's a better way of doing business."

"That whole process was really brutal and knowing that I brought my team into that, it just sucked," Gabrielle continued.

Stars React to Gabrielle Union's America's Got Talent Firing

Back in November 2019, NBC announced that Gabrielle and Julianne Hough would not be returning to the competition series after serving as judges for one season. (E! and NBC are part of the NBCUniversal family)


Days later, a report surfaced stating Gabrielle had expressed concerns over alleged racial insensitivity on set. In addition, the actress allegedly received "excessive notes" on her physical appearance including her hairstyles.

Her exit launched an internal investigation of NBC and production companies Fremantle and Syco Entertainment. On May 27, findings were revealed in a statement to E! News.

"Through the investigation process, it has been revealed 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," the statement read. "The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract. NBC, Fremantle and Syco share Ms. Union's dedication to diversity and inclusion in the industry. We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding AGT as one of the most diverse programs on television."

America's Got Talent continues airing new episodes this summer with judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum.

While participating in the 2020 American Black Film Festival, Gabrielle said she hopes her production company can help provide a space that fills a void in the industry "where I feel like the voices of marginalized folks have not been traditionally centered or amplified."

She also advised those listening to not jump too quickly into an opportunity before doing your homework.

"We face a lot of rejection in this business," Gabrielle said. "Anytime someone says yes to us you get so excited, because we don't hear yes that often, and sometimes those yeses are masking a host of trouble and problematic behavior…Perhaps you don't want to be someone's racial guinea pig."