Gabrielle Union calls out Simon Cowell for smoking inside on AGT

Gabrielle Union has claimed she thinks Simon Cowell believes he is above the law due to the fact he smoked inside during her time on America’s Got Talent.

The actress, 47, spoke about her experiences on the NBC talent show during an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Tuesday.

Gabrielle’s comments came after she a harassment complaint against Simon and NBC, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism. 

Interview: Gabrielle Union has claimed she thinks Simon Cowell believes he is above the law due to the fact he smoked inside during her time on America’s Got Talent

During her interview, Gabrielle also suggested that she thought an investigation into her claims would be ‘independent’, but claimed it was funded by NBC.

Discussing her experience on the primetime show, she said: ‘Day one, Simon Cowell is smoking cigarettes inside. I’ve worked a long time. 

‘I’ve worked with all kinds of people. I’ve never experienced that,’ Gabrielle said, while also mentioning that she is severely allergic to cigarette smoke.

‘When your boss — the person who has the ability to determine who gets opportunities and who doesn’t — doesn’t believe that the law applies to him or the rules apply to him, and he does it in full view of NBC, Fremantle and Syco and no one cares about Simon Cowell exposing all of these employees to second hand smoke, that’s day one,’ Gabrielle claimed.

Complaint: Gabrielle's comments came after she a harassment complaint against Simon and NBC, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism

Complaint: Gabrielle’s comments came after she a harassment complaint against Simon and NBC, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism

Allegations: The actress, 47, spoke about her experiences on the NBC talent show during an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (pictured left) on Tuesday

Allegations: The actress, 47, spoke about her experiences on the NBC talent show during an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (pictured left) on Tuesday

‘What message do you think that sends to anyone that has an issue with the very real racism and the lack of accountability?’ Gabrielle continued. ‘And it goes on and on and on.’

The Bring It On star also touched on the investigation into her racism allegations, which was commissioned by NBC, which she believed would be independent. 

‘I decided to participate in this investigation,’ Gabrielle said. ‘Silly me, I thought ‘independent’ was independent. But when NBC and [producers] Fremantle and Syco pay for that investigation, they control it.’

Disappointed: During her interview, Gabrielle also suggested that she thought an investigation into her claims would be 'independent', but claimed it was funded by NBC

Disappointed: During her interview, Gabrielle also suggested that she thought an investigation into her claims would be ‘independent’, but claimed it was funded by NBC

‘They turn over what they believe to be inflammatory things, or things that are not advantageous to me,’ Gabrielle alleged. ‘In the middle of an investigation about racism and discrimination? This is what’s happening from the top of the company.’

MailOnline have commented Simon’s representative’s for comment. 

Gabrielle filed a harassment complaint against NBC and Simon earlier this month, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism. 

The star’s attorney said entertainment chair Paul Telegdy tried to stop her ‘from telling the truth about racist actions that took place’ on America’s Got Talent.  

Speaking out: Gabrielle's lawyer alleges that star was threatened by NBC Chairman in attempt to silence her over complaints of racism on America's Got Talent

Speaking out: Gabrielle’s lawyer alleges that star was threatened by NBC Chairman in attempt to silence her over complaints of racism on America’s Got Talent

‘When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of America’s Got Talent, NBC did not ‘stand’ with her in ‘outrage at acts of racism.” lawyer Bryan Freedman began in a statement posted on Twitter. 

In May former judge Gabrielle broke her silence on being axed from the talent show last year. She told Variety she was compelled to report racist jokes cracked by guest judge Jay Leno – but when she spoke up, she was cut from the show.

Gabrielle has now filed a complaint against NBC Universal, Cowell and production companies FremantleMedia and SyCo, which is owned by Cowell. 

Reports: Gabrielle filed a harassment complaint against NBC and Simon Cowell, pictured, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism

Reports: The star's attorney said entertainment chair Paul Telegdy, pictured, tried to stop her 'from telling the truth about racist actions that took place' on America's Got Talent .

Reports: Gabrielle filed a harassment complaint against NBC and Simon, after claiming a network chairman tried to silence her reports of racism. The star’s attorney said entertainment chair Paul Telegdy, right, tried to stop her ‘from telling the truth about racist actions that took place’ on America’s Got Talent 

The harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaint was filed in June with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing and could pave the way for a lawsuit. DailyMail.com contacted NBC and Cowell for comment.

The reality show has previously denied many of Gabrielle’s claims, with a statement claiming an investigation found the show ‘demonstrated an overall culture of diversity’. 

But Freedman’s statement continued: ‘Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved. 

‘Rather, NBC stood against her and directed its ‘outrage’ at Ms. Union for whistleblowing about the racially offensive conduct she experienced while working for NBC on America’s Got Talent. 

Line-up: Actress and producer Union was offered a seat on the coveted judge panel of AGT in the spring of 2019. She is pictured alongside Howie Mandel, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell

Line-up: Actress and producer Union was offered a seat on the coveted judge panel of AGT in the spring of 2019. She is pictured alongside Howie Mandel, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell

Moving on: Last month, Gabrielle broke her silence on being axed from America's Got Talent last year in an interview with Variety

Moving on: Last month, Gabrielle broke her silence on being axed from America’s Got Talent last year in an interview with Variety

‘In sharp contrast to NBC’s recent statement on race, what was truly an ‘outrage’ was the fact that Paul Telegdy, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, actually threatened Ms. Union in an attempt to silence her from telling the truth about racist actions that took place on the show.’

‘I want to make further amends with Black women’: Terry Crews issues second apology to Gabrielle Union

Terry Crews apologized to Gabrielle Union in a tweet Thursday

Terry Crews apologized to Gabrielle Union in a tweet Thursday 

Terry Crews has again apologized to Gabrielle Union. 

The AGT host had said sorry to Union in January for invalidating her experiences of racism and sexism on set. 

He tweeted again Thursday to say: ‘I also see that I am privileged as man, in a society that also has sexism built in. This privilege carries over into my community as a Black man in relationship with Black women.

‘It is in this light I want to make further amends with Black women, and in particular @itsgabrielleu for not recognizing the privilege I have – especially in the workplace- and adding this fact to my earlier apology.’

Tweeting at Union in January he wrote: ‘I want you to know it was never my intention to invalidate your experience— but that is what I did.’

‘I apologize. You have been through a lot in this business,’ he added. ‘With that I empathize with the struggle toward fairness and equality in the workplace. 

Crews, who remains a host on the show, faced backlash on social media, for defending AGT as  ‘the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment.’

He also said ‘ I can’t speak for sexism because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience.’ 

Union quickly took to Twitter to share her feelings on the comments, without directly mentioning Crews. 

‘Truth telling, wanting change & having MULTIPLE witnesses who bravely came forward to let EVERYONE know I didn’t lie or exaggerate, really exposes those who enthusiastically will throw you under the bus, forgetting quickly who stepped up 4 THEIR truth.’  

‘There is no place for this type of racial bullying in the workplace, and it is going to take more than a Tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NBC intends to create an environment free from racism.’ 

His complaint comes after NBC Entertainment tweeted to say they ‘stand in outrage at acts of racism’ as demonstrations continue across the U.S. to condemn racism and police abuses. 

Protests followed the death of black man George Floyd after a white Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.  

Actress and producer Union was offered a seat on the coveted judge panel of AGT in the spring of 2019.

‘I signed up for the experience of being a part of a show that hails itself as the biggest stage in the world. 

‘Super diverse, and one about giving people an opportunity to shine where they otherwise probably wouldn’t. What could go wrong?’ she told Variety.  

Bosses insisted her complaints had nothing to do with the decision to cut her from the show. 

But Gabrielle says her problems began on day one when she found series creator Simon Cowell smoking on set. Union, who has been allergic to cigarette smoke since she was a little girl, fell ill.

‘I couldn’t escape. I ended up staying sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lingered, and turned into bronchitis, because I couldn’t shake it. It impacted my voice, which affects my ability to do my job,’ Union said.  

Union revealed bringing up Cowell’s smoke to producers was a dire choice for her.

‘Coming onto a set and you are literally met with the very definition of a toxic work environment, and it’s being carried out by the most powerful person on the production,’ she told Variety.  

Producers told her there had been complaints about his smoking in the past but effectively, nothing would change.  

After her complaint, Simon claims he changed his smoking habits and the issue wasn’t raised again. He said he didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and as soon as he learned of her concerns he smoked outdoors. 

However a source familiar with the investigation told Variety that while the matter was addressed, they couldn’t say Simon had entirely stopped smoking indoors.  

Weeks later guest judge Jay Leno was on the show and cracked a joke that Cowell’s pet dogs looked like food items found on a menu at a Korean restaurant, peddling the stereotype that Asian people eat dog meat.

‘My first big interview in this industry, the first person who allowed me to come on their talk show, was Jay Leno. I’ve always held him in high regard, but I was not prepared for his joke,’ Gabrielle said. 

‘I gasped. I froze. Other things had already happened, but at this point, it was so wildly racist,’ she added.

Producers reportedly said they would edit his comment out.  

‘You cannot edit out what we just experienced. There is not an edit button in my brain or in my soul. To experience this kind of racism at my job and there be nothing done about it, no discipline, no company-wide email, no reminder of what is appropriate in the workplace?’ she said. 

Allegations: She told Variety she was compelled to report racist jokes cracked by guest judge Jay Leno, center with the judges - but when she spoke up, she was cut from the show

Allegations: She told Variety she was compelled to report racist jokes cracked by guest judge Jay Leno, center with the judges – but when she spoke up, she was cut from the show

Gabrielle said that AGT’s set was culturally and racially insensitive. 

She has previously alleged that production staff also told her that her hairstyle and clothes were ‘too black’.

Gabrielle also said the show was ill-equipped to give all contestants equal attention to the hair and makeup chair, which she points out is a recurring problem for minorities.

‘Some contestants get the full Hollywood treatment and then some are left to dangle,’ she said. She said Hollywood sets who fail to hire diverse departments to meet the needs of all backgrounds creates ‘an unequal and discriminatory experience.’  

AGT insisted their investigation found that ‘no one associated with the show made insensitive or derogatory remarks’ about her appearance. They added that race or gender were never factors considered when eliminating contestants. 

Gabrielle also said she was concerned when a white male contestant was allowed to audition with ‘black gloves to [represent] a black performer’. The act was flagged as problematic before his performance but he was still allowed to perform for the judges and an audience, Union told Variety.

Show bosses say the performer was originally planning on performing a different song by white rapper Eminem, and the wearing of black gloves was related to that. 

Married: Gabrielle pictured with husband Dwyane Wade in February

Married: Gabrielle pictured with husband Dwyane Wade in February 

Gabrielle also hit out at the hiring of judge Julianne Hough – who came under fire in 2013 for wearing black face at a Halloween party trying to be African American actor Uzo Aduba from the show Orange is the New Black.

‘I’m a part of a show that hired one of my co-workers who had an unfortunate incident doing blackface,’ Gabrielle said.

‘I’d like to trust her at her word that she learned her lesson, and has educated herself amid the consequences she faced and is hopefully a better person. But you would think that perhaps the show and NBC might be more conscientious in exposing that, and it would be taken seriously. I took it seriously,’ she added.

Denial: AGT insisted their investigation found that 'no one associated with the show made insensitive or derogatory remarks' about Union's appearance. They added that race or gender were never factors considered when eliminating contestants

 Denial: AGT insisted their investigation found that ‘no one associated with the show made insensitive or derogatory remarks’ about Union’s appearance. They added that race or gender were never factors considered when eliminating contestants

She noted that the show did not have a standing policy of using contestants’ preferred pronouns. 

That touches a personal note for Gabrielle and her husband NBA star Dwyane Wade whose 12-year-old child is transgender and identifies as a female named Zaya. 

In response to the story, NBC, Fremantle and Syco, which produce America’s Got Talent, released a statement saying they took Union’s concerns seriously and launched an outside investigation with more than 30 interviews. 

‘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 in a statement to DailyMail.com. 

They added: ‘We continue to remain committed to having an inclusive environment for everyone associated with the show, and to upholding AGT as one of the most diverse programs on television.’ 

Day one: Union says her problems began on day one when she found series creator Cowell smoking on set. Union, who has been allergic to cigarette smoke since she was a little girl, fell ill

Day one: Union says her problems began on day one when she found series creator Cowell smoking on set. Union, who has been allergic to cigarette smoke since she was a little girl, fell ill

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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