After sharing a post in support of Black Lives Matter on Monday, Lea Michele found herself at the center of troubling controversy — Samantha Ware and several of Michele’s Black Glee co-stars came forward sharing that Michele was effectively guilty of “tormenting” them on set. Now, Michele is breaking her silence on those allegations, issuing an apology for “any pain” she may have caused.
Taking to Instagram early on Wednesday morning, Michele wrote, “One of the most important lessons of the last few weeks is that we need to take the time to listen and learn about other people’s perspectives and any role we have played or anything we can do to help address the injustices that they face. When I tweeted the other day, it was meant to be a show of support for our friends and neighbors and communities of color during this really difficult time, 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 continued, “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.”
Michele acknowledges her actions caused damage yet still doesn’t directly address the individual allegations. “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,” she wrote, adding, “We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”
Michele noted that impending motherhood makes her want to do better. “I am a couple of months from becoming a mother and I know I need to keep working to better myself and take responsibility for my actions, so that I can be a real role model for my child and so I can pass along my lessons and mistakes, so that they can learn from me,” she said. “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.”
LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD “SHIT IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD… https://t.co/RkcaMBmtDA
— SAMEYAAAAAA (@Sammie_Ware) June 2, 2020
The drama first began to unfold shortly after Michele’s Monday Twitter post, which featured a Black Lives Matter hashtag. Sharing that tweet, Michele’s former Glee co-star Samantha Ware added, “LMAO remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget. I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘shit in my wig!’ Amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.”
It didn’t take long for some of Michele’s other black co-stars from the series to weigh in. Alex Newell posted a GIF that seemed to support Ware. Dabier Snell shared a similar experience from 2014, explaining, “Girl you wouldn’t let me sit at the table with the other cast members cause ‘I didn’t belong there’ Fuck you Lea.”
Neither Amber Riley or Naya Rivera, two of the show’s most prominent black stars, directly addressed the accusations, but Riley shared a GIF showing her sipping tea that fans assume was a coded commentary. And Rivera described a difficult working relationship with Michele back in her 2016 book Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up.
Before you go, check out these books to read to better understand systemic racism.