Gabrielle Union’s Firing From NBC Isn’t the First Time She’s Had Problems with a Major Network

Gabrielle Union is currently embroiled in drama with NBC. On Nov. 22, the network reportedly fired Union from America’s Got Talent after she spoke out about the work environment, which allegedly allowed racism and other alarming behavior.

Union’s firing has shocked many people. But they might be even more surprised to learn that it’s not the first time she’s had issues with a network. In 2016, she sued and reached a settlement with BET over matters related to her hit show, Being Mary Jane.

Gabrielle Union on the "America's Got Talent" red carpet
Gabrielle Union on the red carpet | Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

A summary of Gabrielle Union’s firing from ‘America’s Got Talent’

According to reports, Union’s firing came after she expressed her concerns about racism and Simon Cowell’s alleged habit of smoking indoors, which is a violation of California law.

Union had tried to seek network action but was discouraged, dismissed, labeled as “difficult,” and ultimately ousted from the show, per Vulture. She had only appeared on AGT for one season — season 14 — before being let go.

In response to the reports, NBC and AGT producer Fremantle defended what they called the show’s “long history of inclusivity and diversity.”

“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,” the companies said in a statement.

As of writing, Union has not directly commented on her departure from the show. But she posted a series of cryptic messages online amid her exit. In a Nov. 28 Instagram post, she thanked those who have her back and support her “when everyone is looking and when no one is looking.”

Gabrielle Union’s fight with BET

In October 2016, Union sued BET for $3 million in a breach of contract lawsuit over Being Mary Jane, on which she starred from 2013 to 2019.

According to Deadline, Union and BET had agreed that she would film no more than 13 episodes per season so that she could continue to do movies. But the network allegedly defaulted on its promise, ordering 20 episodes of the series to be filmed back-to-back in a bid to cut costs.

“We filed this lawsuit because of BET’s outrageous conduct toward its No. 1 star on its highest-rated show,” Union’s attorney Marty Singer explained to the outlet.

BET defended itself from the lawsuit. “We feel strongly that we are contractually well within our rights and are committed to reaching a swift and positive resolution in this matter,” BET said in a partial statement.

In December 2016, the two reached an undisclosed settlement.

Gabrielle Union’s comments on her lawsuit against BET

Union opened up about the experience and what she learned from it in an August 2018 interview with Essence, saying, “I learned that if it’s not in writing, no one is obliged to do anything. Not even what they promised. No matter how cool you think you are with whoever, at the end of the day, people will work [toward] what puts more money in their pocket.”

Union also said that the lawsuit made her realize how important it is to stand up for herself — even when there’s a lot at stake.

“I was afraid to [hit] back because I didn’t want to perpetuate infighting within my own people,” Union continued. “But at the end of the day, BET is not Black-owned. It’s owned by Viacom. It’s David and Goliath.”

“I’m just one Black actress, on one cable show, on one network [that’s] part of a conglomerate. But I was told something. I was promised something,” she added. “For me, I [thought] I can stand up and try to fight, or I can go to my grave feeling like a piece of sh*t for not standing up.”

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Union is allegedly considering fighting back and taking legal action against NBC and AGT. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that they can work this out.