A little over five years after Fox's musical dramedy Glee gave its final performance, the show once again entered the cultural zeitgeist for some very non-harmonious reasons. Co-star Samantha Marie Ware, who joined the show in Season 6, recently dropped some all-caps allegations on Twitter that called out Lea Michele for making Ware's life a "living hell" during her time on the show. Social media swiftly backlashed against Michele, who soon apologized, and in the days since, other Glee co-stars such as Amber Riley have spoken up about the situation.
It was after Lea Michele shared a #BlackLivesMatter tweet about George Floyd that Samantha Marie Ware responded with her accusation, specifically saying Michele semi-threatened to shit in the other actress' wig if given the chance. Tons of people called out Michele on social media, with many framing her behavior as being racist, due to Ware being black.
That racism-based notion was at the heart of some comments made by Glee star Amber Riley, who said this to Essence during an interview:
I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying. That was the assumption because of what’s going on right now in the world and it happened toward a black person. I’m not going to say that she’s racist. 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.
Amber Riley, who starred as Glee's Mercedes Jones, didn't make any blanket statements about Lea Michele's views on race, despite what others have claimed. Still, the actress has apparently heard more than her share of stories from other black entertainers who suffered through negative experiences with empowered white actresses, indicating that race still plays a role, even if overt racism isn't on display.
Sympathetically, Amber Riley also brought up the fact that Lea Michele is pregnant now, and hoped that people would pull back on social media. Michele also spoke to her pregnancy in her lengthy apology, saying that she knows that she needs to keep growing as a person so that she can serve as a responsible role model to her future offspring.
Glee's Heather Morris, who starred as Brittany Pierce throughout all six seasons, also appeared wary about calling Lea Michele out specifically as being racist. That said, she very much seemed to support calling Michele out in general for her alleged treatment of other actresses behind the scenes. Here's how she put it on Twitter:
Let me be very clear, Hate is a disease in America that we are trying to cure, so I would never wish for hate to be spread to anyone else. With that said, was she unpleasant to work with? Very much so; for Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out. And yet, it's also on us because to allow it to go on for so long without speaking out is something else we're learning along with the rest of society. But, at the current moment it's implied that she is a racist and although I cannot comment on her beliefs, I think we're assuming, and you know what happens when we all assume...
With her response to the Lea Michele situation, Heather Morris offered a straight-up confirmation that Glee's leading lady wasn't fun to work with, at least from her perspective. But in the same breath, Morris also realized that she and others should also be taking on some of the blame for allowing any negative and harmful behavior like that to continue happening unchecked. Those thoughts coincide with the aftermath of George Floyd's death, which inspired many to vow a renewed investment in taking accountability for coworkers' actions.
Currently keeping the music alive on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, which is awaiting news for Season 2, actor Alex Newell joined Glee in its third season as the transgender teen Unique Adams. Newell didn't shield much of his thoughts, having retweeted and commented on plenty of messages shading Lea Michele. Here was his official stance on the matter, as it were:
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!
In case any of that was too vague for Glee fans, here was Alex Newell's tweet response to a comment from a since-suspended user that apparently questioned the legitimacy of such claims against Lea Michele.
To be sure, it hasn't just been Glee co-stars that have spoken up about Lea Michele's alleged on-set behavior. Michele's other former co-stars such as The Mayor's Yvette Nicole Brown and Broadway understudy Gerard Canonico have also painted their pasts with the actress in negative lights. Only time will tell if Michele will stay true to her apology by learning from her reported mistakes and becoming a more responsible co-star in the future.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy recently toyed around with the idea of getting an offbeat Glee reunion together, having recently worked with Darren Criss again for Netflix's Hollywood. But it sounds like his recasting idea would be the only way it could happen, unless Lea Michele suddenly earned forgiveness from all involved. While waiting to see if that ever happens, check out our Summer 2020 TV schedule to see what is definitely coming to the small screen soon.