It was announced over the weekend that America’s Got Talent judges Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough would not be returning for the show’s 15th season.
The two were cast last year after replacing fan favorites Mel B and Heidi Klum in what NBC Alternative and Reality Group President Meredith Ahr claimed an attempt “to bring in fresh expert eyes to join Simon and Howie on the panel.”
The firing comes as a surprise since both women seemed to be a hit with fans and are killing it on social media engagement. But according to an anonymous NBC source, Gabrielle’s firing, in particular, goes deeper than just a panel change made by casting. According to B. Scott’s blog lovebscott, the source said,
“[Gabrielle’s] contract was not renewed after being the #1 talent on the show, NBC, and network TV. She set the record for her Golden Buzzer. They only replace the women and blacks on Simon [Cowell’s] whim. She wouldn’t walk away from $12 million because she’s ‘busy.’ Based on weekly interactions on social media, by the time [the] AGT finale aired Gabrielle was the #1 talent on network TV for 2019. Why not pick up someone’s option in extreme success?”
The source claims that one of the main reasons for Gabrielle’s firing is because of her outspokenness on issues like sexism, racism, and homophobia.
“Let’s just say they didn’t start the racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia etc. in season 14. They were quite comfortable with it all by the time Gabrielle got there. Remember Nick [Cannon] said ‘NBC stands for N*gga Be Careful.'”
The source references Nick Cannon, who left the show in 2017 after he made a joke about the show on his Showtime comedy special, Stand Up, Don’t Shoot.
During the show, he joked that being on the show had taken away his black card.
“But I honestly believe, once I started doing America’s Got Talent, they took my real n***a card. They did! Because then like these type of people started showing up to my shows,” Cannon says, as he points to three older white audience members in the front row, “I can’t do the real n***a stuff no more, because then they’ll put me on TMZ.”
The joke merely poked fun at the cooker-cutter appearances that Nick had to keep up with as the host of a family-friendly show. But the execs at NBC didn’t see it that way.
Shortly after the show aired, Nick took to Facebook to announce that he decided to quit AGT after hosting the show for eight years.
“My soul won’t allow me to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices…So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season but I can not see myself returning. As of lately, I have even questioned if I want to even be apart of an industry who ultimately treats artists in this manner. With this being the case, true equality in our industry is impossible. There will always be a “do as I say” mentality that mirrors society’s perception of women and minorities, and only a few will stand up against it.”
Gabrielle has always been outspoken when it comes to issues plaguing the black community, as well as the LGBTQ+ community, which NBC should have been aware of before hiring her. If what the source says is true, and she is being fired for those reasons, shame on NBC for penalizing their employees for not being silent when it comes to important issues when it comes to marginalized communities.