The former NBA star said he’d heard no “good” explanation for why Union was let go from the NBC show amid recent media reports that she and fellow “AGT” judge Julianne Hough would not be returning for the upcoming 15th season.
“So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!?” Wade tweeted. “[I am] still waiting on a good answer to that question. But if anyone knows @itsgabrielleu or have heard of her you know she’s an advocate for our community and culture.”
In additional tweets, he noted he was proud of Union for “standing up for what she stands for”:
The blog Love B. Scott first reported over the weekend that Union had spoken up about “problematic” situations on the “America’s Got Talent” set and suggested that was linked to her departure.
A Variety report published Tuesday cited unnamed sources who said that Union had complained about racially insensitive incidents and racist jokes during her time on the show. Vulture published a report on Wednesday citing unnamed sources who similarly alleged that Union pushed back on incidents she perceived as discriminatory and that she was being dropped for being “difficult.”
A representative for NBC Universal and representatives listed for Union and Hough did not immediately return requests for comment.
“‘America’s Got Talent’ has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show,” NBC and series producer Fremantle said in a joint statement to Variety. “The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”
Union, Hough and Terry Crews joined Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel for the show’s 14th season. Cowell, Crews and Mandel are all expected to return for the next season, according to Variety.
Hough told the publication that she “had a wonderful time” on the show and “loved working with the cast, crew and producers.”
But the allegations surrounding Union’s ouster have sparked wide concerns on social media that she was dropped for speaking out against discrimination.
Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke, responding to Wade’s tweet on Wednesday, described Union as “so consistent”: “She stays standing up and speaking out even when it’s unpopular.”
In 2017, longtime host Nick Cannon said he was leaving “America’s Got Talent” after he said NBC tried to “publicly reprimand” him over a joke he’d made about the network’s clean image on a Showtime special. The comedian used the N-word in a joke about being a Black man on “AGT.”
“Now for the rug to be pulled from underneath me and to be publicly reprimanded and ridiculed over a joke about my own race is completely wrong and I have to do something about it,” Cannon wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.
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