Leno’s joke was eventually cut from the episode that aired on Aug. 6.
Some believe that Union — who had a three-year contract with NBC — was fired for calling out the incident, which happens to be only one of the alleged others.
In one incident, Union referred to a White male contestant from Italy as performing with “blackface hands” when he slipped on a pair of black gloves to do an impression of Beyoncé, sources told Vulture.
In another, judge Howie Mandel allegedly suggested that a South African choir made of Black members “sing something from ‘The Lion King.’”
Insiders claimed that both Union and Hough’s contracts could have been renewed, but NBC asserted that they have simply “rotated out.”
“‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show. 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,” the network said in a statement. “NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”
Union has since received an outpouring of support from the public and other celebrities on social media, including Jameela Jamil, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ellen Pompeo, Debra Messing and Ariana Grande.
I am lucky to work with really good people at @nbc and am sad and angry to know this has been going on in that same network. I stand with @itsgabrielleu all the way. They should bring her back, with a big raise, and remove @SimonCowell instead. 🤙 https://t.co/ZDsmurRUd4
Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women. If you go for self in these moments you undermine the work we are out here trying to do. Obviously this network feels like they can operate like this and it’s okay.
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. Addressing a hostile work https://t.co/gcI0nKLat0
as a Korean, thank you for helping us not feel so lost, adrift, alone when it comes to racial insensitivity. (; not sure if you realize how truly insulting and hurtful Korean-eating-dog jokes are… so thanks. 🤍
As an Asian American, I truly thank you. I’ve always felt I had no voice in our society. We are grossly misrepresented and underrepresented. You’re a real one Ms Grabriel Union. You have my heartfelt gratitude ❤️
While Union has not spoken more on the developments, on Dec. 1, she commented “This! This! AND THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!” on a Twitter post from freelance writer Joelle Monique on the steps to making a proper apology:
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