Si­mon’s smok­ing made me sick, says Union

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

GABRIELLE UNION claims Si­mon Cow­ell’s smok­ing on the set of Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent made her ill. The 47-year-old ac­tress – who is se­verely al­ler­gic to cig­a­rette smoke – says she com­plained about Si­mon’s smok­ing on her first day, but it was a tough de­ci­sion for her to do so when she was “com­ing on to a set and you are lit­er­ally met with the very def­i­ni­tion of a toxic work en­vi­ron­ment, and it’s be­ing car­ried out by the most pow­er­ful per­son on the pro­duc­tion”.

Gabrielle al­leges that the smoke made her sick for two months and her ill­ness, in turn, up­set co-star Howie Man­del, who is a self-con­fessed germa­phobe.

She told Va­ri­ety: “I couldn’t es­cape. I ended up stay­ing sick for two months straight. It was a cold that lin­gered, and turned into bron­chi­tis, be­cause I couldn’t shake it. It im­pacted my voice, which af­fects my abil­ity to do my job.

“It was chal­leng­ing to tend to my ill­ness with­out be­ing made to feel like I’m re­spon­si­ble for my own sick­ness. It put me in a po­si­tion from day one, where I felt both­ered. I felt iso­lated. I felt sin­gled out as be­ing dif­fi­cult, when I’m ask­ing for ba­sic laws to be fol­lowed. I want to come to work and be healthy and safe and lis­tened to.”

A spokesper­son for Si­mon said: “When he was di­rectly in­formed of the smok­ing com­plaint dur­ing the first cou­ple of days of the sea­son, he im­me­di­ately changed his be­hav­iour and the is­sue was never raised again.”

Speak­ing pre­vi­ously about quit­ting smok­ing, Si­mon – who used to puff on 80 cig­a­rettes a day be­fore cut­ting back in 2016 and tak­ing up va­p­ing – said: “If I tried to cut out cig­a­rettes com­pletely, I would have a real prob­lem: too bor­ing.”


Mean­while, Gabrielle – who is mar­ried to NBA player Dwyane Wade – also called for Jay Leno to be re­ported over an of­fen­sive joke he made on the show, and said she flagged one con­tes­tant’s act, which she felt was prob­lem­atic.

She said: “If I can’t speak out with the priv­i­lege that I have, and the ben­e­fits that my hus­band and I have, what is the point of mak­ing it? What is the point of hav­ing a seat at the ta­ble and pro­tect­ing your priv­i­lege when you’re not do­ing s**t to help other peo­ple?”

Fre­man­tle, Syco and NBC told Va­ri­ety in a joint re­sponse that they “im­me­di­ately en­gaged an out­side in­ves­ti­ga­tor who con­ducted more than 30 in­ter­views to re­view the is­sues raised by Ms Union. While the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has demon­strated an over­all cul­ture of di­ver­sity, it has also high­lighted some ar­eas in which re­port­ing pro­cesses could be im­proved”.



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