Heidi Klum waded into the controversy over Gabrielle Union's firing from America's Got Talent during the Television Critics Association press tour and defended the show. Her comments sparked more outrage, and insisted she did not mean to "negate or question" Union's allegations. Klum said she understands her experiences on the show are different than Union's.
"Recently, a reporter asked me to share my thoughts about Gabrielle Union's experiences while working as a judge on America's Got Talent," Klum said in a statement to PEOPLE. "I told the reporter that I had not experienced similar issues while I was a judge on the show — my experience was a positive one. I can only speak of my own truth, and by no means is that meant to negate or question Gabrielle's truth."
"I am aware that my experience may not be the same as Gabrielle's," Klum continued. "What I can tell you is that I am a fierce advocate for all people, no matter their race, age, religion, gender or sexuality. Everyone should be treated equally and with utmost respect. Personally, I have experienced very hurtful things while being married to a man of color and having three beautiful children with him. While everyone's challenges are different, I want nothing more than for a just world and for people to be kinder to one another."
Klum, who was previously married to singer Seal, was a judge on America's Got Talent for six seasons. She and Mel B left in May 2019, and were replaced by Julianne Hough and Union for AGT Season 15. In November, NBC announced that both Union and Hough would not be coming back for a second season.
Variety later reported that Union complained about a "toxic" work environment at AGT. She reportedly complained about racial insensitivity behind the scenes, and received multiple notes about her appearances. NBC responded by launching an investigation, and Union had a five-hour meeting with the network in December.
During the TCAs, Klum was asked about the situation.
"I've only had an amazing experience," she told reporters. "I can't speak for her. I didn't experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with the utmost respect. I've never seen anything that was weird or hurtful."
"Of course, there's always this cat-and-dog fight, but this is fun," the supermodel continued. "You say something silly. For me, being on television, I want to entertain people. I want people to have a good time. I want people to go away from their life for two hours and just have fun and enjoy."0comments
Klum returned to AGT for America's Got Talent: The Champions Season 2, which airs on NBC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. She also hosts Making The Cut with Tim Gunn on Amazon. The series debuts on Friday, March 27.
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