Union had reportedly raised concerns about the sexism and racism she experienced as a judge on the show, and NBC later did not renew her contract.
Actor Terry Crews is being criticized for praising America’s Got Talent after former judge Gabrielle Union was dropped from the show for reportedly calling out its toxic work environment, which included sexism and racism allegations.
“I can’t speak for sexism, because I’m not a woman,” Crews said on the Today show Thursday. “But I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience on America’s Got Talent.”
Crews went on to call the talent reality show, which he hosts, “the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment,” citing its contestants.
“I believe you should listen to women, you should always believe women,” he said, but added that the allegations came from “an unnamed source” and that Union herself has not made a public statement about the allegations. He also said he hadn’t reached out to Union about her experience.
Union hasn’t directly commented on the allegations, but alluded to meetings with NBC in December following initial reports of her departure from the show.
Union’s husband, basketball star Dwyane Wade, also tweeted about her departure in late November, stating that he was not given “a good answer” as to why Union was let go, and including #AGT in another tweet.
NBC launched a formal investigation into America’s Got Talent in December following a Variety report that Union’s contract as a judge had not been renewed after she reported a racist joke to producers and was told that her hairstyles were “too black” for viewers. Further reporting from Vulture detailed the alleged tension between Union and Simon Cowell, a co-judge and executive producer, saying she had complained about his smoking on set.
Fans and fellow celebrities came out in support of Union after her firing. Many publicly criticized the network for dropping her, and called out the racist and sexist behavior that she reportedly complained about to the network.
Both Crews’ and Union’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday. However, Union appeared to address Crews’ comments in several tweets Friday, noting that diversity in front of the camera doesn’t necessarily translate to diversity behind it.
Union also appeared to take aim at Crews specifically in several tweets, including one in which she wrote, “Why anyone would gleefully get up on TV and tell lies that NO ONE disputed… But we already know.”
Many fans are rallying behind Union in the wake of Crews’ comments, noting that Union vocally supported the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star when he came forward in 2017 accusing Hollywood agent Adam Venit of groping him at a party in 2016.
Requests for comment from NBC were not immediately returned Saturday. Crews himself has not publicly addressed the criticism of his comments.
NBC’s investigation into Union’s allegations is ongoing. SAG-AFTRA, a union representing entertainment artists across the country, announced its own investigation into America’s Got Talent in December.