Lea Michele is apologizing after her Glee co-star Samantha Ware called out the actress’ behavior towards her behind the scenes of the show. A few other Glee stars chimed in as well, voicing their issues with Michele. Others recognized that this wasn’t the first time the actress’ behavior has brought up complaints from her co-stars. Here’s what happened, and what we know now.
It Started With Lea Michele’s Tweet
While it isn’t surprising that there’s drama around the cast of Glee, this is an entirely different situation. It began after Michele posted a tweet in support of Black Lives Matter. Ware quote-tweeted the message, slamming Michele for her behavior on the set and listing one of many “traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.” The tweet immediately took off, earning thousands of likes and replies within minutes.
Her Glee Co-Stars Had Some Things To Say
Alex Newell and Amber Riley, both former Glee stars, posted their responses soon after. Newell responded directly to Ware’s tweet, adding an “intrigued RuPaul” gif, while Riley simply tweeted a gif of herself looking unsurprised and enjoying the tea.
Amber Riley elaborated on her viewpoint on an episode of Real Quick with Danielle Young. “I’m not going to say that she’s racist,” Riley explained. “She’s also pregnant, and I think that everyone needs to chill. Y’all dragged her for a couple of days, but at the same time, in my inbox there are a lot of black actors and actresses telling me their stories and letting me know they have dealt with the same things on set — being terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show.”
Newell also laughed off skeptics who claimed that he and his co-stars were lying for some inexplicable reason, as well as explaining some more of his thoughts on the struggles he and his friends have to deal with in the entertainment industry.
I’m gonna say this one time… when my friends goes through something traumatic I also go through it… that’s what friendship is… and if you can’t understand that then you’re part of the problem… and that’s on PERIODT! And I mean that for both sides of this coin!— Alex Newell (@thealexnewell) June 2, 2020
As various fans and publications have pointed out, this isn’t the first time Lea Michele’s professional behavior came into question. Naya Rivera, who starred in all six seasons of the show as well, mentioned her problems with Michele in her memoir, writing that Michele started ignoring her midway through the show and didn’t speak to her the show’s sixth season. According to Rivera, Michele assumed any complaints made by Rivera were about her before giving her the cold shoulder. Ultimately, she wrote that they “definitely weren’t the best of friends” and expressed doubt that they’d ever be friendly with one another again. Once Ware’s tweet went out, the story popped back up.
Dabier, who appeared on the show in 2014, slammed Michele as well. “GIRL YOU WOULDNT LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS CAUSE ‘I DIDNT BELONG THERE’ [expletive] YOU LEA,” he tweeted. With 31,500 retweets, it’s obviously a sentiment that many now share. Dabier and Amber Riley have also both reiterated that they shared their input and are through commenting on it when there are much more important things they’d rather talk about and focus on right now.
While ultimately fairly minor, eagle-eyed fans were quick to point out that Melissa Benoist, who appeared in the show’s fourth and fifth seasons, had liked the tweets from her former co-stars about Lea Michele. We here at Gossip Cop know that social media likes aren’t the strongest “proof” of anything, but they certainly point to the fact that multiple actors knew about the problems behind the scenes and Michele’s behavior wasn’t an isolated incident.
It Wasn’t Just Glee Actors
Even Arrow star Kirk Acevedo got in on the replies, tweeting in support of Ware. He wasn’t the only non-Glee star to chime in, however. Yvette Nicole Brown, who worked with Michele on the short lived ABC comedy The Mayor, responded to Samantha Ware’s tweet directly, writing, “I felt every one of those capital letters.”
I felt every one of those capital letters. ✊?— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) June 2, 2020
Within the replies to that message, one fan ignored the complaints and asked for further proof of Michele’s behavior. After an extra that worked with Michele talked about how Michele treated them on set, the skeptical fan apparently dismissed the issue since they were “only” an extra.
Proof? You want proof? I was an extra, she called us cockroaches. She yelled, she demanded. She is a horrible human being. I felt like I was a nobody around her. She is RUDE, she is mean. Sit this one down, UNLESS YOU WORKED ON SET, you have no idea!! #Glee #LeaMichele— ✨ Mare ✨ (@ItsOnlyMare92) June 2, 2020
Yvette Nicole Brown shut that down immediately, calling the fan out so hard that they deleted their initial tweets entirely. She pointed out that treating any co-worker poorly is a bad sign and allowing that sort of behavior to continue can only hurt others.
Nope.— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) June 2, 2020
Less of this energy. EVERY person on a set matters. EVERY person on a set deserves respect. And it is the RESPONSIBILITY of every series regular to make EVERY person who visits their home feel welcome.
This dismissive attitude is what’s wrong in Hollywood AND the world.
Lea Michele Responded With An Apology
Shortly after Ware’s tweet caught the public’s attention, the meal delivery service Hello Fresh announced that it had cut ties with Michele; she’d only been working with the company since January.
HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind. We are disheartened and disappointed to learn of the recent claims concerning Lea Michele. We take this very seriously, and have ended our partnership with Lea Michele, effective immediately.— HelloFresh US (@HelloFresh) June 2, 2020
Two days after Samantha Ware first called her out, Lea Michele issued a two-page apology on her Instagram page. The actress wrote that her original tweet was sent in solidarity, “but the responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them.” She then wrote that she didn’t remember making any sort of comment to Ware and that she’s never judged someone for their race, she admitted that she “clearly acted in ways which hurt other people.” Michele ended the note by writing, “I listened to these criticisms and I am learning and while I am very sorry, I will be better in the future from this experience.”
The note was not well-received, with one line in particular drawing fire: “Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times”. Many commenters pointed out that Michele’s language seemed to free her from any race-related concerns that were brought up by her fellow actors and came off as though she blamed victims for “perceiving” their poor treatment as such.
As Riley mentioned, Michele is currently pregnant, so her career was already on pause. Fans and critics will both have to wait and see if this situation impacts her professional life any more than it already has, as well as waiting to see what strides the actress makes to repair these obviously fractured relationships and problematic behavior.