Gabrielle Union Cites Julianne Hough’s Blackface Offense In Lawsuit Against NBC

Gabrielle Union is taking things a step further with her demand for change at NBC following her termination from America’s Got Talent. The actress filed a harassment complaint against the network, the production company and longtime host, Simon Cowell. Union famously accused Cowell of creating a toxic environment for her and others. She named her former co-host, Julianne Hough, in the suit – alleging that NBC has a history of hiring talent known for past racist behavior and cites Hough dressing in blackface for Halloween as an example. 

Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough via Twitter

A recap of Julianne Hough’s blackface offense

Hough was criticized after dressing as Crazy Eyes, An African American character from the popular Netflix series Orange Is The New Black for Halloween in 2013. Donned in an orange jumpsuit, Hough wore makeup that was multiple shades darker to try and mimic the character. She also attempted to copy the same natural hairstyle as the television character. She issued an apology after the swift backlash.

"Crazy Eyes" and Julianne Hough as "Crazy Eyes"
“Crazy Eyes” and Julianne Hough as “Crazy Eyes” via Twitter

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“I am a huge fan of the show ‘Orange is the New black,’ actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize,” a then 25-year-old Hough wrote on Twitter.

Hough apologized for a second time in 2015 during an interview with Allure Magazine. “Ignorance is sometimes not bliss. I really had no idea what I was doing, and it was all out of fun and respect for the character,” she said. “I don’t even know how to talk about it because it’s such a sensitive topic. It makes me so sad to think that I was that dumb. I learned a big lesson.”

Gabrielle Union says NBC has a history of hiring talent accused of racist behavior, including Julianne Hough

Union is alleging in her suit that after witnessing behavior she deemed racist and misogynistic, she filed a complaint with executives that fell on death ears. As a result of her complaints, Union says she was deemed “intimidating” and fired.

Source: Instagram

Related: ‘America’s Got Talent’: Gabrielle Union Files Harassment Complaint Against Simon Cowell and NBC

She says that NBC has a history of hiring celebrities with a racist past, including Hough, who she worked alongside at America’s Got Talent. She cites Hough’s blackface offense as an example and believes NBC intentionally hired Hough knowing of the incident.

According to documents obtained by The Blast, Union’s suit says of Hough’s hiring:

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Purple Haze

A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

Source: Instagram

Producers made a decision to hire Union as a judge on AGT while simultaneously hiring Hough, a two-time professional champion of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars who had recently gone through a widely publicized scandal for personally appearing in blackface. Hough apologized in response to the public uproar that she caused. Combining someone who so openly wore blackface (Hough) with someone who is black and regularly advocates on behalf of minorities (Union) should have at least alerted Telegdy that this could cause Union to experience some trepidation or concern about being unprotected from racially insensitive individuals while working as a judge on AGT.

Union is requesting monetary compensation in an unspecified amount, as well as demanding that changes are made at NBCUniversal. Hough was also fired at the time of Union’s termination after just one season as a judge.