She also explained how Julianne Hough’s past Blackface controversy made one moment on set particularly complicated.
Gabrielle Union left no stone unturned as she gave new details about her controversial stint on “America’s Got Talent.”
Back In November 2019, the actress, 47, said she worked in a racist and toxic work environment during her time on the competition show and launched a legal complaint against NBC for firing her.
During a recent, lengthy interview on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast, Gabrielle discussed the allegations and the subjects surrounding them — including Simon Cowell’s on-set smoking, Julianne Hough’s blackface incident and Terry Crews’ stance amid Gabrielle’s firing.
At the time, Terry was criticized for not publicly supporting Gabrielle. He did, however, go on the “Today” show to highlight his positive experience on “AGT,” saying, “It was the best experience I ever had in my entire life.”
When Gabrielle was asked on the podcast about Terry’s actions, the star replied, “The only thing I know for sure is that Terry Crews gets three checks from NBC. So, I don’t know if being worried about job stability — which listen, we all know that if you speak up about racism and white supremacy, you absolutely can be shown the door — I don’t know if that’s the motivation.”
The “Bring It On” star then referred to Terry’s recent controversial tweets about Black Lives Matter, which critics said devalued the movement.
“Based on his recent actions, do you really think Terry Crews was an ally, was helpful, was a sounding board?” she asked. “I think Terry Crews is showing us who he is and what he does during times of adversity and it’s not solidarity.”
Speaking about her backing Terry when he came forward with allegations of assault during the #MeToo movement, Gabrielle said she did not feel the same support from him after her “AGT” claims.
“Not to say if I offer you solidarity I expect you to be the getaway driver during a bank robbery — that’s what he made it sound like in one of those series of tweets,” she explained. “If you saw something, say something. If you didn’t have my experience, you also have an option to say, ‘I believe Gab, I just had a different experience.’ End of story.”
She added, “You don’t have to do a press tour where your sole objective is to discredit and malign me. You know, I’ve been in Hollywood a very long time. There’s very little that surprises me, but that was very disappointing for sure.”
Gabrielle then told the host that Terry may “regret” his actions after more details about the legal complaint emerge.
“Since I’ve been so vocal about what happened, the floodgates have opened. This reckoning is just hitting,” she claimed. “There is so much more that is coming. I have a feeling he will probably regret it for a thousand reasons, very soon.”
The actress then turned her attention to another incident during her time on “AGT” that she deemed racist, as a white contestant prepared to imitate a Black performer during auditions. Gabrielle quickly shut it down by hitting her “X” button.
“Finally the act is over and they’re like, ‘So Gab, tell us about why you hit the X?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m good.’ Because the reason I can’t explain why blackface is wrong is because sitting next to me is Julianne Hough, who, God bless her, she seems like a sweet person — who happened to do Blackface for Halloween!”
Julianne wore Blackface in 2013 to imitate Uzo Aduba in “Orange is the New Black.”
“I’m erring on the side of Blackface is never good,” she continued. “But they want me to explain it and I was like — if I explain it, I’m going to remind everyone that my coworker did Blackface and what do you want me to do here.”
In regards to the allegedly toxic environment created by Simon Cowell’s smoking during production, Gabrielle said her job immediately became more difficult when he walked in “with a lit cigarette.”
“How do you say — not only does [Simon] own ‘AGT’, he is the executive producer and the lead judge — but I can’t do my job, my voice is already deep to begin with,” she said. “When it’s impacted by the cigarette smoke, I literally can’t do my job. But I’ve gotta report the boss and report him to who? It’s like reporting police brutality. To who?”
The outside investigation into Union’s complaints against NBC, Fremantle and Syco Entertainment determined that no wrongdoing had taken place — however, the complaint is likely “heading toward a lawsuit or arbitration,” according to Deadline.