Former ‘America’s Got Talent’ host Tyra Banks praises Gabrielle Union amid show dramaJanuary 28, 2020
Tyra Banks is praising Gabrielle Union following the former judge’s controversial exit from “America’s Got Talent” in November.
Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough exited the NBC competition show after one season and, in November, Variety reported on a “toxic culture” at the show that included racist jokes and excessive focus on female judges’ appearances, including race-related comments.
In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Banks said she thought Union handled the situation beautifully.
“What I love about what she did is she was very vulnerable. I wasn’t super close to it, but I saw some of her tweets,” the former “AGT” judge said. “I thought it was beautiful… how she wasn’t speaking in anger, she’s speaking in pain like ‘I’m trying to get through this… and I’m crying.’ “
She continued, “I just thought that was really beautiful. Because a lot of the times in entertainment, you have to put up this front – I’m strong, and I’m this and I was wronged. She was so vulnerable… And I also thought that it was beautiful that her husband really supported her as well.”
Banks, who hosted from 2017 to 2018, added that she wasn’t “really immersed in the culture” of the show to comment on specifics related to Union’s exit.
Tyra Banks, who was a judge briefly on "America's Got Talent," spoke about the Gabrielle Union controversy and her time on the show. (Photo: Ian Tuttle, Getty Images for Breakthrough P)
“I almost kind of like dipped my toe in and left,” she said.
In December 2019, two weeks after Union’s exit from the show, she said she had a “productive meeting” with NBC.
Though Union didn’t explicitly say who she met with in the tweet, NBC confirmed with USA TODAY that a meeting between Union and the network did take place.
In January 2020, NBC Entertainment chief Paul Telegdy said he took Union’s claims seriously, but that he couldn’t discuss them in the midst of an internal investigation that he expects to be completed by late January.
“I promise you this is being taken very seriously,” Telegdy said during NBC’s presentation at the Television Critics Association. “I can’t say anything else while they’re doing a serious investigation.”
This isn’t the first time a star familiar with the show has commented on the controversy.
At the Television Critics Association earlier this month, Judge Heidi Klum addressed her six seasons on the popular talent competition.
“I’ve only had an amazing experience. I can’t speak for (Union). I didn’t experience the same thing,” she said. “To me, everyone treats you with the utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”
In December 2019, former judge Howard Stern pointed fingers at Simon Cowell as the reason to blame for Union not returning to the show.
“How is it that Simon Cowell has orchestrated this? He has set it up that the men stay, no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are,” Stern said on his SiriusXM show.
Current “AGT” host Terry Crews received backlash for speaking out about the controversy, saying in an interview on “The 3rd Hour of Today” last week that he never experienced racist comments.
“In fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment,” he said.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Bill Keveney, Anika Reed
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