The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has launched an investigation into the claims of a “toxic culture” on set of America’s Got Talent (AGT), following Gabrielle Union’s exit from the show.
A spokesperson for the performer’s union sent a statement to Variety on Sunday night, saying, “We take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light.”
“It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member,” the statement continued.
“For certain matters, our investigation and enforcement needs to happen independently and we are prepared to handle this issue accordingly, as warranted. Our enforcement action is usually handled confidentially to protect the member involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the member requests that we do so,” the spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA added.
“While we have taken steps to investigate this matter, we have nothing to report now.”
On Sunday, a joint statement was released from NBC, FremantleMedia, which produces the show, and Simon Cowell’s entertainment company Syco regarding Union.
“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” the groups’ statement read.
“We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
In late November, it was announced that Union and Julianne Hough would not be returning to AGT next season. Days later, Variety published a report claiming there was a “toxic culture” on the set of AGT.
According to Variety’s report, Union had concerns over offensive incidents that happened on set.
The report alleged that both judges were subject to “excessive notes” about physical appearance and claimed that AGT had a culture of toxic, racist jokes.
Multiple people on set were upset by the joke, Variety reported, and Union reportedly urged producers to report the joke to the human resources department.
Variety also quoted multiple unnamed sources saying Union was told several times that her hairstyles were “too black” for the singing competition show.
The article also claimed that Union expressed concerns over an incident during auditions in which she believed a white male performer crossed a line in portraying people of colour.
According to another report, published by Vulture, Union was “perceived as ‘difficult’ by Simon Cowell and his team of producers” after voicing concerns about “perceived racist incidents, Cowell’s habit of smoking indoors, and attempts to keep the show from misgendering contestants.
On Sunday, Union quoted a tweet that outline the three steps in “a solid apology.”
“This! This! And THIIISSSSSSS!!!!!!,” Union added.