Heidi Klum says that she was the victim of racial backlash after she defended America’s Got Talent amid Gabrielle Union’s claims that the show was a toxic work environment during her one-season run as a judge.
Klum was a judge on America’s Got Talent for six seasons, and she is still on the judge’s panel for the spin-off America’s Got Talent: The Champions. Union and Julianne Hough replaced Klum and Mel B. as the female members of the judges panel on the original series during Season 14. And, after her contract was not renewed, Union revealed in November that she made complaints to NBC about racism and inappropriate workplace behavior, but she says she was ignored.
While promoting her new series Making the Cut at a Television Critics Association event last month, Klum said that she’s only had an amazing experience on AGT. She added that she can’t speak for Union, but she didn’t experience the same thing. And, in her opinion, everyone treats others with the utmost respect, and she never saw anything that was weird or hurtful.
When she was asked if she had experienced any kind of racism during her time on AGT, Klum said that nothing came to mind.
But, this past week at the amfAR gala at Cipriani Wall Street, Klum told Page Six that the response to her comments at the TV Critics Association didn’t go over well with some fans.
“A lot of people got mad at me. I was called, for example, ‘a white woman,’” explained Klum. “I think it is important for everyone to speak their truth. I think that when there is a story, it should be told. I had a different story. I can only speak to what I saw — it has nothing to do with what color I am. I am a human so I just looked at what I saw.”
AGT host Terry Crews had a similar experience when he defended the reality competition series. He told Us Weekly in January that Union’s claims didn’t reflect his experience on the show, and he added that hosting AGT was the “best experience I ever had in my entire life.”
Crews ended up facing his own share of criticism for his comments, and he recently apologized to Gabrielle Union via a series of tweets.
“I told @KevinHart4real a while ago, he needed 2 ‘acknowledge the pain of other people.’ Right now I have to do the same thing,” wrote Crews. “I want to apologize for the comments I made. I realize there are a lot of Black women hurt and let down by what I said and also by what I didn’t say.”