NBC’s Gabrielle Union Racism Investigation Verdict Is In and She Won’t Be Happy About It

Gabrielle Union on "AGT" Season 14Jill O'Rourke | Talent Recap

On Wednesday, NBC and AGT producers have announced that an outside investigation into Gabrielle Union’s firing from the show is complete. In a statement, they seemed to contradict Gabrielle’s accusations of racism on set.

Gabrielle and her fellow judge Julianne Hough were let go from the judging panel last year after one season on the show. Shortly after, it was reported that Gabrielle had called out racist incidents and a “toxic” work environment during production.

What Did NBC’s Gabrielle Union Investigtion Find?

In a statement to The Wrap, NBC, Fremantle, and Syco say they took Gabrielle’s concerns “extremely seriously.” An oustide investigator apparently conducted 30 interviews over six months, looking into the issues the former judge raised.

“Through the investigation process, it has been revealed that no one associated with the show made any insensitive or derogatory remarks about Ms. Union’s appearance, and that neither race nor gender was a contributing factor in the advancement or elimination of contestants at any time. The investigation has shown that the concerns raised by Ms. Union had no bearing on the decision not to exercise the option on her contract.”


The investigation apparently found an “overall culture of diversity” on the show, although it also saw “some areas in which reporting processes could be improved.” A source also told Variety that the show has started sensitivity training and made changes to “help screen and elevate issues to human resources more efficiently.”

Among Gabrielle’s reported issues with the show was the claim that her hairstyles had been called “too black.” She also supported a young black rapper, but was allegedly told the show needed “an act America can get behind.”

What Issues Doesn’t NBC’s Statement Address?

While NBC’s statement seems to dismiss the issues raised by Gabrielle, there are a few specific complaints which weren’t addressed. For instance, the anti-Asian joke guest judge Jay Leno allegedly made about eating dogs. Or Simon Cowell’s on-set smoking, which irritated Gabrielle’s allergies.

In a new interview with Variety, Gabrielle also mentions that the show didn’t ask contestants’ preferred pronouns, which could have led to misgendering by the judges. She also complained about an act in which a white contestant “put on black gloves to [represent] a black performer.”


Gabrielle has also said she had a cold for two months, and her runny nose seemed to irritate fellow judge Howie Mandel. “It was challenging to tend to my illness without being made to feel like I’m responsible for my own sickness. It put me in a position from day one where I felt othered,” she said.

According to The Wrap, Gabrielle has asked the investigator to follow up on certain concerns which apparently “would not materially change the findings.” Does this refer to the issues NBC didn’t address in the statement? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Jill O'Rourke
Jill O'Rourke

Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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