Ellen Pompeo calls out NBC for the Gabrielle Union-AGT racist & sexist situation

Photocall of the L.A.'s Finest series at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco

As we discussed just before the Thanksgiving holiday, Gabrielle Union did not really leave NBC’s America’s Got Talent of her own accord. She had signed a one-year contract, with an option of two more years, and NBC didn’t renew her contract. What could have been a simple “it’s just business” corporate decision has turned into something else entirely, as Variety (and other industry papers) have spent days documenting how Union was basically pushed out because she spoke up about racist bullsh-t she witnessed, or racist bulls–t which was directed at her by her bosses and coworkers. The NBC culture really hasn’t changed at all from the days of Matt Lauer. Union truly got “notes” from producers that her hair was “too black.” And when she tried to call out the problematic sh-t she witnessed, she was the one punished. It’s all just… awful. Union received a lot of support online, and she tweeted out her thanks:

Several celebrities spoke up about the situation, including Ellen Pompeo. I have no idea if Pompeo even knows Gabrielle Union that well, but Pompeo had some strong feelings about everything that went down. She tweeted this:

It’s unfortunate that @nbc the same network that protected disgusting men like Matt Lauer and punished women for speaking out or not putting up with it…has not changed their practices or culture. I support @itsgabrielleu commitment to speaking up to injustice. It takes courage

this is a teaching moment..It’s important..white girls I’m talking to you..whether you truly understand what racial injustice is or not..that you stand with your sisters on the front lines. Don’t cut side deals & don’t not get involved because it isn’t your issue..because it is

Workplace cultures will continue to be toxic until there is unity and solidarity among all women. If you go for self in these moments you undermine the work we are out here trying to do. Obviously this network feels like they can operate like this and it’s okay.

With that said GIRLS….instead of wack jugglers and messy Simon Cowell watch @ReeseW and Jennifer Anniston in The Morning Show!! Soooo much better. Hard to believe these networks are still getting away with this. Our work continues @itsgabrielleu ❤️

[From Ellen Pompeo’s Twitter]

WACK JUGGLERS. Love it. I also love “Don’t cut side deals & don’t not get involved because it isn’t your issue.” Then she ends it on a weird note about The Morning Show, right? Because… The Morning Show has two white female leads. I don’t know, maybe she was just trying to shout-out to her latest favorite show. But she kind of ruined her argument. Still, she gave us “wack jugglers” and for that, I am grateful.

Actress Ellen Pompeo grabs coffee while rocking oversized shirt during outing at Alfred's

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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38 Responses to “Ellen Pompeo calls out NBC for the Gabrielle Union-AGT racist & sexist situation”

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  1. Erinn says:

    I think she was making a point that The Morning show isn’t network tv. She’s pushing people to streaming platforms and away from network shows. I think that’s a pretty clear, and kind of clever, message.

    • SKF says:

      I’m thinking because it includes thinly veiled criticism of NBC and Matt Lauer.

      • LaUnicaAngelina says:


      • Mellllll says:

        ^^^This. I think she was basically encouraging people to watch the show for an idea of what goes on behind the scenes at NBC and elsewhere. But it does seem odd without the explanation.

    • noway says:

      I think she was making the point it’s women. I’m sorry this happened to Gabrielle Union, but it doesn’t surprise me. Yes black women are treated worse, but women in general in the entertainment world are treated like crap. Apparently, Julianne Hough got a lot of crap too, but didn’t support Gabrielle Union in this probably because of her career. This could be part of what Ellen meant when she was saying side deals.

      On one side note, NBC News and NBC Entertainment aren’t the same people. Not even the same lawyers, who we all know are the important people in this scenario. People can pitch a fit at NBC, but the whole industry sucks in regards to women, race, and it’s all a white privileged man power play.

      • Jess says:

        I thought it was a slick comment to Julianne Hough for sure, she’s still with the network working on a new project I think. That was definitely a nod to her not having Gabrielle’s back and looking out for her own ass.

  2. Darla says:

    Black women are playing huge roles on The morning show though. Karen Pittman tore my heart out last episode. And Gugu Mbatha-Raw is about to take front center next week. I actually find witherspoon the least compelling woman on the show, by far. By far. She should have stayed behind the scenes IMO, and gave that role to someone else. It just never hits the right notes. But the other women? Wow. IMO this is a show about women.

    • Lucy2 says:

      The supporting cast on the show is really great, and pretty diverse which is nice.
      I don’t mind Reese’s character, but I am definitely waaaaay more intrigued by Karen’s right now.

      I’m really disturbed by what happened to Gabrielle though, and am glad she’s receiving support. I know a lot of times it feels like nothing has changed, but just the fact that we know all this went down and people are standing up against it proves progress has been made, however small and slow.

    • LouBear says:

      Darla, I am LOVING the show but I agree with re Reece. She’s such an excellent actress but the role isn’t right for her. To be fair, Bradley is the only character that doesn’t ring quite true for me. Her motivations are never clear, we don’t know what she wants or who she really is.

      • Darla says:

        LouBear, I totally agree, and am not even blaming Reese. Bradley is a badly written character and she does not ring true to me either.

        Lucy, I agree with your post.

    • Aliyah says:

      I love that Gabrielle had the courage to speak up about this- imagine how much harder it is for woc and other poc who don’t have her star power there? Good to see others in the business standing by her too.

  3. Christo says:

    Agree with Ellen. Am I wrong for thinking that Ellen curiously looks like a blond, thinner version of Roseanne Barr in the header photo?

  4. Amelie says:

    Ellen spoke up because of her daughters. She is married to an African American man and she has children of color. And Julianne Hough was all “Nah I had a great experience and doing this other thing with NBC!” Which probably pissed Ellen off because she’s probably experienced white kids doing this to her daughters or imagining her daughters in Gabrielle’s place. Not surprised she spoke up it didn’t seem out of the blue for me.

    • Tiffany says:

      Even longer than that. Ellen has spoken up and spoken out on racial issues before going back to when she and her husband started dating back in Boston.

      So Ellen is married to a black man, and is mother to two biracial daughters and one biracial son. She knows it will not be easy for them and is not pretending otherwise.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree with you and Tiffany, plus she had to fight her own network about compensation and stuff for her own show too. She’s been pretty open about that, and I’m guessing is tired of the old white guy culture of the major networks.

    • noway says:

      I don’t think it’s entirely cause of her daughters. I know I feel this way too, and if I was in a position of power I would speak up too, but it’s mostly cause of my work experiences. Keep in mind Ellen Pompeo owes her career to an amazingly talented black woman, Shonda Rhimes. If she didn’t understand it all before, I think 10+ years watching Shonda fight for stuff others just got probably made her realize it.

  5. Betsy says:

    To be honest I don’t know what being an effective ally looks like for a SAHM but I believe Gabrielle. WTAF.

    Also her hair was “too black”? What frigging year is this? Where are we?

    • stepup says:

      The most effective thing anyone can do, ally wise, is speak up. But first, learn. Read some books on the topic so you can spot subtle racism.

      Then, if one of your other SAHM friends says something shady or problematic or something steeped in implicit bias, SPEAK UP! Let them know you won’t tolerate that shit. Let them know you think they’re a bad person for saying what they said.

      Also teach your children about racism and implicit bias.

    • Tiffany says:

      ie: We do not want to hire black women to handle your hair and makeup because, why should you be the one who is special.

  6. Casey says:

    Is “side deal” a reference to Julianne Hough making a side deal which is why she’s staying quiet?

    • Guest2.0 says:

      Probably. Sounds like Julianne got paid to stay quiet and so she is and it’s actions like hers that undermine us all. Ellen’s right to call that BS out.

      • Casey says:

        Oh man if that’s true then Julianne sucks.

      • ME says:

        @ Casey

        Of course she sucks. Remember when she did Black Face for Halloween one year and didn’t realize it was offensive until the internet came for her? I bet she’s secretly blaming Gabrielle for everything !

      • noway says:

        I don’t think she got paid to shut up. She was just offered a new role in another show with the company. Welcome to the world of network tv. I never worked anywhere more obvious in these kind of moves than CBS and ABC. Never worked at NBC but knew many who did, and they are all the same. Trust me the quickest way to have any Hollywood dreams die is to work for them.

    • Original T.C. says:

      Yes! They had to fire both her and Gabrielle without it looking *obviously* racist since they both reported claims. However they made sure to rehire Julianne on the sly. I get Julianne was trying to stay employed, I would have been OK if she kept quiet but her comments of support towards NBC sounds exactly like the FOX ladies who released statements in support of their sexual harassing boss Roger A. It’s a statement meant to discredit your fellow women’s reporting of sexism/racism etc. Some White women are happy to be complicit with racism and patriarchy against Black Women. But karma is a bitch she will continue “winning” until she hits 40 and gets tossed aside for a 20 year old blonde by the White men she’s aligning with!

      “I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC,” she said in a statement, while citing her upcoming appearances in two NBC specials, Holidays With the Houghs and Christmas in Rockefeller Center.

      • noway says:

        No, I think they wanted to fire Jullianne. She’s done a couple of these shows where she is the judge and she’s not very good at it. Not sure what the deal is with her, but they are always trying to make her a star, and it just isn’t working. If I didn’t know better I’d say she is really a mediocre white male who gets 10,000 chances to succeed. Stop trying to make her happen. It’s not working.

        Gabrielle they fired to make it look like it was just an overall change of the women again. She bugged them with her legitimate comments about racist remarks and the big guy, Simon Cowell smoking in the studio. So off she goes.

  7. incognito08 says:

    As an African-American woman, I applaud Ellen Pompeo for supporting Gabrielle Union and calling out the racism, sexism and overall shadiness in the television industry. As women, we have to advocate for each other if we actually want to eradicate the systems which have kept us fighting over scraps. As for Julianne Hough, she has been trash to me ever since her blackface debacle a few years ago. Her apology was lukewarm at best. I am not surprised that she has been complimentary towards NBC and has been radio silent about what transpired with her former colleague, Gabrielle.

    • stepup says:

      I, too, hold a special place in my heart for white women who actually make an effort to understand implicit bias and casual racism — and have the strength of character to speak up! Those women rock. The ones who actually recognize past wrongs and genuinely apologize for it….SWOON!

      On the flip side, I’m not a huge fan of white women who earnestly believe that they’re wonderful allies because they “like” Oprah and Tyler Perry and over-lather praise on Beyoncé. Or worse, think they’re “experts” on the black experience because they read a book or two by Sojourner Truth and Alice Walker and felt something. In my book, those folks are not all that different than MAGA-heads.

      • Christina says:

        Stepup and Incógnito (live you, girl!), there isn’t nothing more deplorable than a white liberal who thinks they did enough by voting for Barack and fan-girling Michele. Can you please stop calling the police on my peeps? Could you please support me when there is racial bias at work? Could you please support my child when she is being told to go back to her country (the U.S.)? Stop blowing smoke up my butt, Julianne Hough and Scarlett Johanson!!!!

    • Renee says:

      So true about Julianne Hough. She will wait until she reads the room to see if she praises or agrees with Gabrielle. Hough is a fraud.

  8. Jess says:

    I love Ellen, she gives no shits and is so passionate about women’s rights. I love that she’s comfortable enough to speak out against another network, she’s a total badass.

  9. Renee says:

    The Morning Show shout out was because she show is basically about the Matt Lauer & NBC debacle. I actually like the show and think it’s Aniston’s best work.

    Gabrielle Union is a treasure. I’m so glad she didn’t remain quiet on the issues she had with AGT and Simon Cowell. Good for her! I hope her story wreaks havoc on that dumb show and it’s network. Simon Cowell is a creep.

  10. Charfromdarock says:

    It’s a total shocker that Simon Cowell is a jerkjaws. /sarcasm

    Good on Ellen for giving public support especially when so many others are quiet.

    I highly suspect the other Ellen will have Simon Cowell on her show in a super friendly interview to show what a “great guy“ he is.

  11. schmootc says:

    Evidently the union (sorry, I had to) is now getting into it: https://themuse.jezebel.com/sag-aftra-launches-investigation-into-gabrielle-unions-1840147883

    Serves AGT right.