Akbar Gbajabiamila to co-host ‘The Talk’ following Elaine Welteroth’s exit

The former NFL star joins Jerry O'Connell as the only other man on the panel for the upcoming 12th season.

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The Talk is running through hosts like never before. The CBS daytime talk show has lost multiple hosts within months of one another. The American Ninja Warrior co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila is joining the popular roundtable amid Elaine Welteroth’s exit, PEOPLE reports.

The former NFL star is happy to be part of the upcoming 12th season, saying in an official statement: “I am so excited for this new generation of such a long-standing establishment. To be a part of this diverse group is truly a dream and a new statement for The Talk. In a world as divided as ours, I look forward to showing up as my fun and authentic self every day and advocating for conversation over confrontation.”

Gbajabiamila, who co-hosted the Tokyo Live show during the Olympics for NBC, has previously appeared as a guest host on The Talk, making quite the impression on showrunners and viewers.

Akbar Gbajabiamila thegrio.com
Former NFL player, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila speaks onstage during day 2 of SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIV on January 30, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM )

“It’s a new day in daytime for season 12 of The Talk and we are thrilled to welcome Akbar to the family,” executive producer Heather Gray said in a statement. 

Co-executive producer, Kristin Matthews, shared similar sentiments, saying, “Akbar’s candor and humor come with ease and are great additions to the conversation. Also, his relatability as a husband and father creates a special connection with the viewers that is invaluable.” 

Season 11 was riddled with controversy.

Welteroth joined the show in January and announced her exit recently after just one season. Longtime co-host Sharon Osbourne parted ways with the show after facing backlash for her fierce defense of Piers Morgan’s constant attacks against Meghan Markle.

She accused producers of blindsiding her with the segment, alleging that hosts are always briefed on questions during the hot topics segment of the show. 

Audio of Welteroth corroborating Osbourne’s account of being set up was leaked to the public. While Welteroth stands by her comments, she admitted to feeling violated for being secretly recorded. Her departure came on Wednesday.

Elaine Welteroth visits Build Studio on June 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Elaine Welteroth visits Build Studio on June 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

“It is an absolute honor for anyone, but especially a young Black woman, to occupy space on-air where our perspectives are largely underrepresented,” Welteroth said. “It was gratifying to be able to show up as my authentic self in front of a live national audience every day in a world as divided as ours and to stay true to myself and what I stand for,” she said in part. 

CBS also released a statement, wishing Welteroth well on her next endeavor. 

Prior to Welteroth, Carrie Ann Inaba announced she was bidding adieu after three seasons on the show. Osbourne left in March, and rapper turned actress Eve quit the show amid the global coronavirus pandemic in Dec. 2020, citing difficulties commuting from her home base in London as the reason. 

Eve then joined the cast of the upcoming show Queens with Brandy, Naturi Naughton, and Nadine Velazquez as a 90s rap group making a comeback.

It appears the network is looking to diversify its roster of hosts not just with people of color, but with hosts of different genders. Jerry O’Connell is also joining as a co-host for season 12. He was announced as the show’s first male co-host and Osbourne’s replacement. He’s hosted several daytime talk shows prior, including his own, and The Wendy Williams Show.

Season 12 of The Talk premieres Monday, Sept. 13.

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