Former Glee star Lea Michele has finally responded to allegations that she made racist micro-aggressions towards her former co-star Samantha Ware. Despite the apology, meal-kit service HelloFresh has terminated its marketing partnership with the performer.
The Initial Tweets
On May 29th, theater and TV star Lea Michele tweeted in support of the national call for racial justice, writing, “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”
While the tweet was initially well-received, Samantha Ware, who played a recurring role on the sixth season of Glee, called Michele out for what she deemed as blatant hypocrisy.
Ware, who is black, took to Twitter herself to respond to Michele in all capital letters:
“LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON [sic] GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD ‘S–T IN MY WIG!’ AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS [sic] THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD…”
Stars Back Up Ware
A chorus of actors who have worked with Michele chimed-in to support Ware’s recollection of mistreatment.
Dabier, who appeared in a 2014 episode of Glee, tweeted, “GIRL YOU WOULDNT LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS CAUSE ‘I DIDNT BELONG THERE’ F–K YOU LEA.”
Actress Jeanté Godlock contributed her own experience of working with Michele, tweeting, “Did somebody say cockroaches? because that’s what she used to refer to the background as on the set of glee. but we grow up and we don’t stay background forever sooooo…”
Meanwhile, Amber Riley, a star of six seasons of Glee who shared many a scene with Michele, did not write anything on the thread, but did share a GIF of herself sipping a cup of tea, hoping followers would interpret the image themselves. Former co-star Alex Newell liked Riley’s post, adding, “We ain’t got not a damn thing to lie about 6 years later!”
But it was not only the set of Glee where Michele developed a reputation for exclusionary behavior. Yvette Nicole Brown, best known for her role on Community, worked alongside Michele on the short-lived ABC series The Mayor. The African-American actress responded to Ware by saying, “I felt every one of those capital letters. 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 Apologizes
Lea Michele finally addressed the controversy a few days later in a long-winded statement on Instagram. “I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” she wrote. “While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that’s not really the point. What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people.”
She continued, “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. We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect my own shortcomings.”
While the apology is self-reflective enough, the final sentence has drawn criticism from some, who feel that Michele is trying to sidestep blame by insisting that she has already improved herself.
The Twitterverse has since flooded the comments section of Michele’s apology with anecdotes of the actress acting dismissive or outright mean to her peers. While the original accusation, with its mention of “micro-aggressions,” implied that Michele’s actions were tinged with racism, the outpouring of personal stories suggests that her behavior has not been particularly cordial towards any person, regardless of race.
Just after Ware’s initial post, HelloFresh tweeted an announcement that it would cut ties with Michele. “HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind,” the statement read. “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.”