Gabrielle Union Speaks On “Toxic” Work Environment At “America’s Got Talent”

Gabrielle Union has been vocal about her experience while working at “America’s Got Talent,” previously claiming that she was edged out.

BYErika Marie
Gabrielle Union Speaks On “Toxic” Work Environment At “America’s Got Talent”

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.

Gabrielle Union Speaks On "Toxic" Work Environment At "America's Got Talent"
Gregg DeGuire / Stringer / Getty Images

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."



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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.