Actor Terry Crews is being criticized for praising America's Got Talent after former judge Gabrielle Union was dropped from the show for reportedly calling out its toxic work environment, which included sexism and racism allegations.
"I can't speak for sexism, because I'm not a woman," Crews said on the Today show Thursday. "But I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience on America's Got Talent."
Crews went on to call the talent reality show, which he hosts, "the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment," citing its contestants.
.@TerryCrews speaks out about Gabrielle Union leaving "America's Got Talent," after her claims of a toxic work environment. "I can't speak for sexism...but I can speak on any racism comments. That was never my experience," he says.
"I believe you should listen to women, you should always believe women," he said, but added that the allegations came from "an unnamed source" and that Union herself has not made a public statement about the allegations. He also said he hadn't reached out to Union about her experience.
Union hasn't directly commented on the allegations, but alluded to meetings with NBC in December following initial reports of her departure from the show.
We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday. I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change.
So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!? Iam still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.
NBC launched a formal investigation into America's Got Talent in December following a Variety report that Union's contract as a judge had not been renewed after she reported a racist joke to producers and was told that her hairstyles were “too black” for viewers. Further reporting from Vulture detailed the alleged tension between Union and Simon Cowell, a co-judge and executive producer, saying she had complained about his smoking on set.
Fans and fellow celebrities came out in support of Union after her firing. Many publicly criticized the network for dropping her, and called out the racist and sexist behavior that she reportedly complained about to the network.
Both Crews' and Union's representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday. However, Union appeared to address Crews' comments in several tweets Friday, noting that diversity in front of the camera doesn't necessarily translate to diversity behind it.
Can someone please ask abt what happens to all that diversity folks are talking about BEHIND THE SCENES. Like, legit... where the hell is all that diversity in the production though homie? In the decision making ranks who control the fate of the diversity in front of the camera?
Union also appeared to take aim at Crews specifically in several tweets, including one in which she wrote, "Why anyone would gleefully get up on TV and tell lies that NO ONE disputed... But we already know."
Maaaaaan... We all agreed to let the investigation be completed before speaking but if we doing this... ohhhhh baby let's gooooooooooo!
If Terry Crews wanted to protect his own interests by remaining silent and not supporting Gabrielle Union, it would have merely been unprincipled. But the fact that he actively contradicts her claims —when he could have just said nothing— is deplorable.
@3rdHourTODAY @terrycrews @itsgabrielleu Also, @terrycrews, just because you didn’t experience something directly, doesn’t mean it didn’t or doesn’t happen. Racism is systemic, and you can’t bet if you say or do something wrong, your race will play a role. It’s ok to yield sometimes
Terry Crews received so much love and support from Black women. It's bullshit the way he is tap dancing and throwing Gabrielle Union under the bus.
Terry Crews selling out Gabrielle Union after she supported him through his #MeToo experience is supremely messed up. https://t.co/QzQqG3UxK0
This. Right. Here. https://t.co/Lusyy2LOwE
Requests for comment from NBC were not immediately returned Saturday. Crews himself has not publicly addressed the criticism of his comments.
NBC's investigation into Union's allegations is ongoing. SAG-AFTRA, a union representing entertainment artists across the country, announced its own investigation into America's Got Talent in December.