Tamron Hall is standing behind Gabrielle Union amid reports that she was fired from America's Got Talent for speaking out against racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior on the NBC reality competition show's set while serving as a judge during the series' most recent season. During Hall's Tuesday episode of her talk show, the former NBC News correspondent defended Union, who was reportedly branded as "difficult" for addressing issues on set.
“[Difficult] is the go-to word. It’s a trope when it comes to women. We are difficult, black women are angry and difficult,” Hall said, as per PEOPLE. “I have in this business watched men storm out of rooms, puffing and huffing, and no one says anything. A woman speaks up, you’re difficult. We just did a show on likeability trap, that women are always in this likability trap.”
Hall isn't the only high-profile woman in entertainment to defend Union. Monday, Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen issued a statement in support of Union to Variety, which initially broke the story that there was more to Union's exit from the show than a simple switch-up.
“Gabrielle Union’s experience at America’s Got Talent is exemplary of the double bind that black women face at work. Not only did Union reportedly endure and witness racist and inappropriate behavior — including racially insensitive comments and excessive criticism about her physical appearance — but it also appears she was punished for speaking out: the company labeled her as ‘difficult’ before ousting her from the show altogether,” Tchen said.
Union's exit from AGT alongside fellow first-season judge Julianne Hough was announced last month ahead of the upcoming Season 15. On Nov. 26, Variety reported that Union had spoken out against racially insensitive situations on the NBC series, including a joke from guest judge Jay Leno that was cut from the episode. The report also alleged that she and Hough were also given "excessive" notes on their appearance.
Monday, Leno addressed his involvement in the report for the first time, telling TMZ, “I love Gabrielle Union. She’s a great girl. I really enjoyed working with her. She’s really good.”
Responding to allegations Union was treated poorly on the show, the comedian added, “I don’t know … but I think she’s a great girl.”
Sunday, Variety obtained a joint statement from Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, NBC and production company Fremantle: “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture. 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.”
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