Heidi Klum said she was the subject of backlash after she defended “America’s Got Talent” in the midst of public claims made by Gabrielle Union against the show, alleging a toxic workplace environment while she served as a judge on the popular talent competition program.
The model spoke at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour last month while promoting her new Amazon series, “Making the Cut,” and said she hadn’t experienced the same treatment Union claimed she did while on the show.
“I can’t speak for [Gabrielle],” she said. “I didn’t experience the same thing. To me, everyone treats you with utmost respect. I’ve never seen anything that was weird or hurtful.”
When asked directly if she experienced any racism during her time on the show, Klum said she couldn’t think of anything.
However, on Wednesday at the amfAR gala in New York City, Klum said her remarks placed a target on her back and she’s now received racial backlash for her defense of “AGT.”
“A lot of people got mad at me. I was called, for example, ‘a white woman.’” she told Page Six. “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.”
Added Klum: “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 also defended the program when he was asked about Union’s claims as well, telling Us Weekly in January, “It just was not my experience” and adding, “It was the best experience I ever had in my entire life.”
Crews’ comments were also met with criticism from social media users who felt he undermined Union’s claims. Crews apologized to Union in a series of tweets last Friday.
“I told @KevinHart4real a while ago, he needed 2 ‘acknowledge the pain of other people.’ Right now I have to do the same thing,” he wrote. “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.”
In November, Variety reported that Union, 47, was allegedly fired from the show after complaining about a “toxic” workplace environment. The same report stated that Union’s different hairstyles were reportedly criticized by executives as “too black” for “AGT” audiences.
In December, Union said on Twitter that she had a “productive” meeting with the team behind “AGT.” Meanwhile, NBC — the network that airs the show – told Fox News in a statement at the time that there “will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts.”