Gabrielle Union is urging women to take a stand against hostile workplaces following her dispute with network bosses at NBC over her “America’s Got Talent” exit.
Union was fired as a judge on the programme last month (November 2019), amid reports she raised a number of race and sex-related matters behind the scenes that were not reported to TV officials.
Speaking during a female empowerment and inclusivity panel as part of the debut of her new New York and Company fashion collection, the actress discussed navigating professional difficulties, and while she did not name the series directly, she appeared to reference her departure from the reality competition.
“Don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid,” she shared. “Don’t allow them to call you angry when someone else is called passionate. It’s terrifying. There’s a solid chance you’ll lose your job… I speak from experience.”
The “Bring it On” star also encouraged those in attendance to be “responsible” when dealing with insensitive executives.
“Do your best because corporations want global dollars,” Union added. “Do your best to try to hold the door open and hold people responsible. Yeah, I’m asking you to do the impossible… I’m fully aware that job loss is on the table… but if you’re not doing it, nobody is.”
Her departure, and that of fellow judge Julianne Hough, is currently under investigation by officials at actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, but Union recently had a “productive” five-hour meeting with officials at NBC as she attempted to work through the issues, although the investigation remains ongoing.
Multiple reports suggest Union had concerns about the way she was asked to dress for the show, and complained about a racially-insensitive joke guest judge Jay Leno made backstage. She also reportedly protested when a white contestant had his face darkened with make-up to look more like Beyonce Knowles for an audition skit.