Union's husband Dwyane Wade and actors Ellen Pompeo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Patricia Arquette also voiced support for the former judge.
“So many tears, so much gratitude. THANK YOU!” Union tweeted, breaking her silence on the matter Wednesday night. “Just when you feel lost, adrift, alone… you got me up off the ground. Humbled and thankful, forever.”
On Friday, news broke that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough would not return to the judging panel for season 15 of the reality talent competition show. Both joined in season 14 as replacements for Heidi Klum and Mel B.
In the days that followed their departures, reports from Variety and Vulture stated Union’s leave came after she reportedly expressed concerns over “problematic” situations behind the scenes. Those allegedly included a racially insensitive joke from guest judge Jay Leno that was apparently cut from an episode, another cut segment involving a white contestant performing racially insensitive impressions of other celebrities, offensive feedback about how Union’s appearance was often “too black” for the show’s audience, and a months-long struggle over Simon Cowell‘s on-set smoking, according to the reports.
Reps for those involved were quiet at the time, but a spokesperson for NBC and production company Fremantle told People in a statement, “America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show. 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’s husband, former basketball player Dwyane Wade, wrote on social media that Union had been “fired” from the show.
“‘Men lie, Women lie, numbers don’t’ Over this past year I’ve been approached by many people saying that my wife @itsgabrielleu is the main reason they’ve started watching #AGT or that they love her insight and sincerity on the show,” he wrote. “So when i got the news that my wife was being fired—my first question was obviously why!? Iam [sic] 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.”
Wade continued, “As proud as i were of her being selected as a judge on #AGT— Iam [sic] even more proud of her standing up for what she stands for and that’s US.”
“It’s unfortunate that @nbc the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out or not putting up with it…has not changed their practices or culture,” Pompeo tweeted. “I support @itsgabrielleu commitment to speaking up to injustice. It takes courage.”
“This is terrible,” Arquette wrote. “You should not be penalized for trying to have a workplace that honors the rule of law in the workplace.”