The relationship between Gabrielle Union and America's Got Talent was one that quickly turned sour. She was brought on as a judge, but according to Union, the work environment not only became physically unhealthy for her as she said she endured Simon Cowell's perpetual indoor smoking, but it was an emotionally damaging experience, as well. The 40-year-old actress has shared stages and sets with thousands of other entertainment industry professionals in her 25-year career, but she recently shared with Variety why America's Got Talent was one of the most toxic.
On her first day on the AGT set, Union, who claims she's allergic to cigarette smoke, complained of Cowell's habit to production. She said it was like “coming onto a set and you are literally met with the very definition of a toxic work environment, and it’s being carried out by the most powerful person on the production.” There were allegations of racially inappropriate remarks, including Jay Leno reportedly making a remark about Cowell's dogs being like the food at a Korean restaurant. Howie Mandel, who is a self-professed germaphobe, couldn't handle sitting next to Union whose nose was constantly running due to allergies.
“I signed up for the experience of being a part of a show that hails itself as the biggest stage in the world. Super diverse, and one about giving people an opportunity to shine where they otherwise probably wouldn’t,” Union says, adding, “What could go wrong?” The actress says she hopes that changes have been implemented so that the future of their work environment is more "inclusive."