Season 15 of America’s Got Talent premiered last week, and the season featured a change-up of judges. Joining the judging panel this season are Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum after Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough both did not return.
In November 2019, it was announced that Hough and Union’s contracts had not been renewed. At the time, Union cited a toxic work environment and Hough has since spoken up in support of Union after maintaining she had a “wonderful time” filming the reality competition.
Both judges had been part of the 14th season, and their exits were a bit of a shock to fans since they had only been on the show for one season.
Why Are Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough Not on ‘AGT’?
There are plenty of reasons on both sides regarding why Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union are no longer on the show, and one of them could be due to ratings. According to Deadline, the show’s final episode fell 29% from the same episode the previous year, meaning the show was at an all-time low. Overall, viewership was down 22% for the season.
Of course, there have been a number of hosts over the seasons including Regis Philbin, Jerry Springer, Nick Cannon, Tyra Banks and Terry Crews, as well as a number of judges like Howard Stern, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, so it’s not clear if the judges have a direct effect on the ratings.
Hough said in a statement at the time that she is happy to continue her working relationship with NBC. She told people the situation is not affecting her morale or confidence.
“I know who I am, and as egocentric as this may sound, I totally and utterly love myself,” she said. “And so I choose to, with whatever I do, just take the lessons that I’ve learned and add them to my vocabulary and move forward.”
She added that she would stay authentic to who she was and not try to please everyone and that it was important to stay true to who she is.
Union Cited Alleged Racism on Set as a Reason for Her Exit
Following Union’s exit from the show, Variety published a report alleging Union’s contract was not picked up because she asked the producers to report a racist joke. Both women were reportedly subject to excessive notes on their appearance, with Union being told her various hairstyles were “too black” for the audience and Hough receiving near-constant criticism for her hair, makeup and wardrobe choices.
Vulture has also reported that workplace tension between Union and Simon Cowell was a factor. Some of the 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.”