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Celebrities Are Slamming NBC For Dropping Gabrielle Union From "America's Got Talent"

Union was dropped as a judge from the talent competition after she reportedly raised concerns about a racist and sexist culture at the show.

Last updated on November 29, 2019, at 5:29 p.m. ET

Posted on November 29, 2019, at 3:48 p.m. ET

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Celebrities are slamming NBC for dropping Gabrielle Union as a judge from America's Got Talent after she reportedly complained about a culture of racism and sexism at the show.

According to a Variety report, Union had raised concerns about racist incidents on set. She was also repeatedly told her hairstyles were "too black" for the show's audience, Variety reported.

Vulture reported that Simon Cowell, a producer and judge on the show, had labeled Union as "difficult" after she regularly complained about his indoor smoking habit. She also allegedly complained about several incidents on set that she perceived as being racist and sexist. Despite Union bringing the issues before NBC executives, "nothing would happen," sources told Vulture.

NBC decided not to renew the contracts for Union and Julianne Hough, another judge on the show, earlier this month.

In one incident reported by Variety, Union urged the show's producers to notify human resources about a racist joke that guest judge Jay Leno made while taping the show in April. Union reportedly said that the joke, which played on a racist stereotype of Asians, would offend the show's staffers and audience. While the line was cut from the episode, the matter was never brought to human resources, Variety reported.

Union also clashed with the show's producers after they allegedly implied that a 10-year-old black rapper was not an act "that America can get behind," Vulture reported.

Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via

She also reportedly urged producers to remove a white contestant from the lineup after his act included dressing like Beyoncé by wearing black gloves, which Union reportedly referred to as "blackface hands."

NBC and Fremantle, the company that produces America's Got Talent, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News, "The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity."

The statement said NBC and the producers "take any issues on set seriously."

Union's representatives did not immediately return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

After Union's exit, several celebrities tweeted their support for her and slammed NBC for what they called a "toxic" work environment.

Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo said, "Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women."

Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women. If you go for self in these moments you undermine the work we are out here trying to do. Obviously this network feels like they can operate like this and it’s okay.

Some actors from NBC shows — including Will & Grace's Debra Messing and The Good Place's Jameela Jamil — also called out the network and endorsed Union's actions.

Thank you for this @EllenPompeo. This is disgusting behavior from a network that has been my professional home for decades. Yes, women become “difficult,” when their insistence on a respectful and professional working environment, is ignored. Addressing a hostile work https://t.co/gcI0nKLat0

I am lucky to work with really good people at @nbc and am sad and angry to know this has been going on in that same network. I stand with @itsgabrielleu all the way. They should bring her back, with a big raise, and remove @SimonCowell instead. 🤙 https://t.co/ZDsmurRUd4

Singer Ariana Grande implored NBC to "be better."

thank you for this @EllenPompeo. be better @nbc. we’re with you @itsgabrielleu. 🖤 https://t.co/UMfcqJZ46w

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro praised Union's "courage" in speaking out about racism and sexism at NBC.

Corporate America tells employees and consumers they take racism and sexism seriously. But often the person reporting the problem is hurt by management. Kudos to @itsgabrielleu for having the courage to speak out. Still waiting for answers from @nbc. https://t.co/TgLxtimG8J

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda also backed Union.

Journalist Jemele Hill pointed out how black women are labeled as "difficult" for "merely seeking respect and decency."

This is called standing on your square. So proud of @itsgabrielleu for standing for what is right when a lot of people would have just been silent to maintain their own position. Also: How many black women are labeled “difficult” for merely seeking respect and decency? https://t.co/Z6ooDzVi1L

While Union has not directly addressed her termination from the show nor the allegations in the reports, she tweeted a thank-you to her followers.

So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU! Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone... you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever ❤

In addition, reports that Union had been subjected to racist criticisms of her hairstyles on the show prompted many black women to tweet photos of their hair using the hashtag #blackhairchallenge.

Feeling like we should start up the #blackhairchallenge again 😊 Post up to 4 pictures of yourself with this hashtag. Embrace your different hairstyles. We’re retweeting everyone! 💕

#BlackHairChallenge. Because Black women are incredible, creative and bold...and if y’all could change your hair this much...you would too. Trust me. Team @itsgabrielleu. All day.

"My hair can be a different texture/length on any given day depending on what I decide to do with it. Same chick. Diff day. Still doing my job," one person wrote.

You can change your hair every damn day if you want. Solidarity w/@itsgabrielleu and the beautiful #blackhairchallenge gracing my feed. My hair can be a different texture/length on any given day depending on what I decide to do with it. Same chick. Diff day. Still doing my job.

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