Amber Riley spoke about her former “Glee” co-star Lea Michele being accused of mistreating cast mates after Michele was called out by Samantha Marie Ware, who also was on the show.
On Friday, May 29, Michele sent a message in support of George Floyd, the Minneapolis Black man whose death on Memorial Day at the hands of Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck sparked nationwide protests and a newly invigorated movement for justice and an end to police abuses against African-Americans.
“George Floyd did not deserve this,” tweeted Michele. “This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Michele was one of the main stars on “Glee,” playing the character Rachel Berry for all six seasons. Ware played Jane Hayward in the final season and said Michele made the work environment unbearable for her.
A long list of others who worked with Michele also have claimed she was horrible to work with. Ware said that Michele made things so difficult for her she wasn’t sure if a Hollywood acting career was right for her.
“Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget,” tweeted Ware on June 1. “I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘s—t in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.”
Michele was slammed on social media after Ware’s message surfaced and issued an apology.
“Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” Michele wrote in part.
Riley responded on Twitter when Michele was getting slaughtered on social media by tweeting a meme of herself sipping from a mug. Riley then talked about Ware’s tweet during a June 4 interview on comedian Danielle Young’s Instagram Live show “Real Quick.”
“I’m very proud of her for standing up for herself,” said Riley about Ware at the 45:13 mark. “I FaceTimed her and spoke to her. … I am proud of her not being fearful in speaking her truth, and if your feeling was, ‘I am not going to allow you to jump on what is happening now when you didn’t treat me right.’ … I am not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying.”
“In my inbox, there were a lot of Black actors and actresses that were in my inbox telling me their stories and were letting me know that they have dealt with the same things being on set and terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show,” she continued. “We all know that a person of color and a Black person is always the sidekick, it’s always number 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 on the call sheet. Very rarely are they No. 1 if it’s not an all-Black cast.”
Riley talked about her own experience with having a difficult time on a set but didn’t specify who it was with.
“The stories I’m reading about how white women are using their privilege and the fact that they are not fireable, something that I was told once on-set after having my own complaint,” she explained. “They know that they’re not fireable and they use that privilege to terrorize their counterparts. These networks don’t have to give a f–k.”
“I wish Lea Michele well. I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown,” Riley continued. “She reached out to me, I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill will on that end.”
Michele didn’t just get blasted on social media for her alleged mistreatment of her cast mates, her partnership with meal delivery company HelloFresh was terminated.
“HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind,” the company tweeted on June 2. “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.”