The Talk Announces Akbar Gbajabiamila as a New Co-Host After Elaine Welteroth Exits

American Ninja Warrior commentator Akbar Gbajabiamila will fill one of The Talk‘s vacant chairs, having been named a permanent co-host for Season 12 of the CBS series.

via: People

CBS announced Thursday that Akbar Gbajabiamila will be the latest co-host of the daytime talk show, two days after Elaine Welteroth exited the series following one season. The American Ninja Warrior star and former NFL player will join current co-hosts Amanda Kloots, Sheryl Underwood and Jerry O’Connell for the upcoming 12th season.

“It is an absolute honor to be joining The Talk as a host!” Gbajabiamila, 42, said in a statement. “I am so excited for this new generation of such a long-standing establishment. To be a part of this diverse group, is truly a dream and a new statement for The Talk. In a world as divided as ours, I look forward to showing up as my fun and authentic self everyday and advocating for conversation over confrontation.”

“It’s a new day in daytime for season 12 of The Talk and we are thrilled to welcome Akbar to the family. His engaging personality, openness and quick wit really impressed us when he appeared as a guest co-host last season,” executive producer and showrunner Heather Gray said.

Her co-showrunner and EP Kristin Matthews added, “Akbar’s candor and humor come with ease and are great additions to the conversation. Also, his relatability as a husband and father creates a special connection with the viewers that is invaluable.”

Welteroth, 34, announced her departure in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Tuesday, writing that she’s proud of her short run on the show.

“It is an absolute honor for anyone, but especially a young Black woman, to occupy space on-air where our perspectives are largely underrepresented. It was gratifying to be able to show up as my authentic self in front of a live national audience every day in a world as divided as ours and to stay true to myself and what I stand for,” she said in part.

Akbar will join Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots and recently announced addition Jerry O’Connell for Season 12, which premieres Monday, Sept. 13 at 2/1c.

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