Gabrielle Union is continuing to speak out against her "brutal" firing from America's Got Talent. The Bring It On actress, 47, opened up about her experience speaking out against alleged racial insensitivity and a toxic workplace environment on set of the NBC talent competition series during the "Minding Her Business" panel for the 2020 American Black Film Festival.
When asked about her most difficult business dealing to date, USA Today reports Union replied, "Probably the AGT of it all was so surprising and so heartbreaking and so frustrating and so unnecessary," she shared. "That would be probably the hardest part [of my time in the industry]." The actress added that there were other parts of behind-the-scenes happenings that left her "feeling like such a public flogging and just standing in my truth and standing on the side of employee rights and knowing there's a better way of doing business." She added, "But that whole process was really brutal and knowing that I brought my team into that, it just sucked."
News broke in November that Union and fellow AGT judge Julianne Hough would not be returning for Season 15, followed just days later by a report from Variety revealing the Being Mary Jane actress had been vocal when it came to alleged racial insensitivity on set and receiving "excessive notes" on her physical appearance. After the report, the show launched an internal investigation, and Union has since taken legal action against the two production companies, the media conglomerate, and AGT creator Simon Cowell, PEOPLE reported.
To Variety after her exit, Union explained, "At the end of all this, my goal is real change — and not just on this show but for the larger parent company. It starts from the top down," she said. "My goal is to create the happiest, most high-functioning, inclusive, protected and healthy example of a workplace."
"If I can't speak out with the privilege that I have, and the benefits that my husband [Dwyane Wade] and I have, what is the point of making it?" she asked. "What is the point of having a seat at the table and protecting your privilege when you're not doing s— to help other people? It's absolutely terrifying to speak truth to power about anything. I'm trying not to be terrified, and some days are better than others." Fremantle, Syco and NBC said in a joint statement to Variety at the time that they had "immediately engaged" an outside investigator to review the issues Union brought to their attention. "While the investigation has demonstrated an overall culture of diversity, it has also highlighted some areas in which reporting processes could be improved," they said.