Julianne Hough commends Gabrielle Union for 'speaking her truth' amid controversial 'AGT' exit

Julianne Hough is speaking out in support of her former "America's Got Talent' co-star, Gabrielle Union.

Julianne Hough is speaking out in support of her former "America's Got Talent' co-star, Gabrielle Union.

Hough and Union were both judges on the 14th season of the hit NBC show and it was announced last week that their contracts were not renewed. Since the news of their departure hit, there have been reports that Union was fired and that she experienced a toxic work environment on the set.

Hough has maintained that she had a "wonderful time" on the show, but on Thursday she commended Union for sitting down with the network to work through any issues.

"We need to start conversations and I just commend Gabrielle for speaking her truth and starting a conversation," Hough said on the third hour of the "Today" show. "I'm really proud of NBC as well for also showing up and starting a narrative, and that's what's going to change the workplace and the paradigm that we've been working in for many, many years, and (it's) shifting and I think that's really exciting."

Union confirmed on Wednesday that she and her team had a meeting with NBC to discuss the workplace culture at "America's Got Talent."

Related: Gabrielle Union's 'America's Got Talent' exit sparks NBC investigation

The actress tweeted she had "a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday," adding, "I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change."

Variety published a report alleging Union's contract was not picked up after she urged the show's producers to report an incident involving a racist joke, and after she was told her hairstyles on the show were "too black."

A separate report by Vulture alleged workplace tension between Union and Simon Cowell, a judge and an executive producer on the series, partly over Cowell's habit of smoking on set, which is prohibited in California.

"We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture," NBC, along with production company Fremantle and Cowell's company Syco, said Monday in a statement to CNN. "We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate."

In an initial statement following Hough's and Union's departures from the show, Hough said: "I had a wonderful time on 'America's Got Talent,' I loved working with the cast, crew and producers."

As for whether Hough has spoken to Union, Hough said Thursday that they haven't yet. "I have reached out. I think we both have been very busy ... hopefully when I get back to LA later this afternoon we can have a conversation."

Hough added that she isn't surprised by the attention this story is getting. "I think that this is a big conversation and I think people really want to be a leader of change, and I think that people are supporting it."

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.