Why Sofia Vergara Replaced Gabrielle Union on ‘America’s Got Talent’

Sofia Vergara America's Got Talent

Tyler Golden/NBC

The season 15 premiere of America’s Got Talent airs tonight, May 26, 2020. Sofia Vergara joins the judging panel this year, acting as a replacement for Gabrielle Union who left the show in November 2019.

The auditions for this season began filming earlier this spring before the lockdowns were enacted due to the global coronavirus pandemic. More auditions were sent in online and competitors who auditioned that way may also make it into the competition.

The live shows for the competition are still scheduled to take place this summer as long as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted. There are three separate scenarios they have planned depending on health and safety advice from officials.

Vergara Joins The Season 15 Judging Panel

Sofia Vergara, star of Modern Family, joins the judging panel this season for the first time. She replaces last season’s judge Gabrielle Union who left when her contract was not renewed in 2019.

Vergara took to Instagram to discuss her excitement about the new opportunity prior to the show’s premiere date, writing “I am so happy to join my new family on @agt. This is a new and exciting next chapter for me and I’m extremely proud to be the first Latin judge on the show. I can’t wait to watch all the new talent and have fun with you guys!”

The judging panel now consists of Vergara, Heidi Klum, comedian Heidi Mandel and producer Simon Cowell. Terry Crews is also slated to return as the host for this season.

Klum previously served as a judge on season eight through 13 of the show and then again on America’s Got Talent: The Champions. 

“I’m so excited to be back at ‘AGT’ with Simon, Howie and Terry,” she said in a statement. “The fact that Sofia Vergara is joining us is the icing on an already delicious cake.”

Union Alleged She Faced Racism on the ‘AGT’ Set

After Union left the show, Variety published a report alleging her contract was not picked up because she asked the producers to report a racist joke. Both Union and Julianne Hough were allegedly subject to excessive notes about their appearance, and Union was allegedly told her hairstyles were “too black” for the audience.

Vulture reported there was workplace tension between Union and Cowell, which led to the exit. Some of that tension reportedly came from Cowell’s smoking on set, which is against the law in California.

“We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” NBC said 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.”

Hough has since added that she is not surprised by the attention the story about the exit got, saying that the entire conversation is big and people “really want to be a leader of change.”

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