Gabrielle Union, NBC meet over America’s Got Talent firing

Gabrielle Union and NBC both said Wednesday that they have had a “productive” first conversation on her firing from America’s Got Talent and her allegations that she was removed over her complaints about racism and other troubling on-set behaviour.

“We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday,” Union said on Twitter.

“I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.”

NBC said in a statement that the “initial conversation was candid and productive. While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.”

Union’s attorney Bryan Freedman said Tuesday’s meeting, which included representatives from Fremantle, the show’s production company, was a good start.

“We’re waiting to see the next steps on whether NBC is going to make sure that there are real changes made to protect both the contestants and the talent,” Freedman said.

Union, a popular celebrity voice on social media and an actress known for her roles in films including Bring It On and Bad Boys II, was a judge on the talent showcase. However, she and fellow judge Julianne Hough were not asked to return after their first season.

Howie Mandel, from left, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell were judges on the most recent season. Union was let go after complaining about racism and other on-set issues. (Trae Patton/NBC/The Associated Press)

Variety subsequently reported that Union, who is black, believed she was fired because she had asked NBC and the show’s producers to address an environment that tolerated racist jokes and remarks, including what she said were multiple notes from producers saying she was wearing her hair “too black” for the America’s Got Talent audience.

Union had also complained of other behaviour, such as judge-producer Simon Cowell’s smoking on the indoor set, Variety reported.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, of which Union is a member, said Monday that it was also working with her to investigate her complaints.

Without directly referring to NBC or the two companies that produce the show, Fremantle and Syco, Union has tweeted about her situation several times, acknowledging the support she’s gotten and retweeting instructions on how to give a proper apology.

Other prominent names on social media, including Union’s husband, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, have called for answers on why she was fired.