Actress Samantha Ware said she called out her Glee co-star Lea Michele earlier this month to highlight abuses of power in Hollywood, pointing out that while the visibility of Black actors is slowly increasing their voices are still stifled on sets.
“You can put color in the room, but if you don’t let them talk or speak or share their side, we’re not getting anywhere,” the actress, who’s known for her roles in Glee, What/If and God Friended Me, told Variety. “There are such imbalances of power and structures that have been fully embedded for years that just need to crumble at this point. Everyone needs to feel heard and be validated.”
Ware made headlines last week when she replied to Michele’s tweet that read, “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”
In response, Ware wrote in all caps in part: “Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget. I believe you told everything that if you had the opportunity you would ‘shit in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.”
Despite saying she doesn’t remember any of the specific incidents Ware mentioned, Michele apologized in an Instagram statement for her aggressive behavior towards the Black starlet.
“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,” Michele said in part. “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.”
“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 added.
Glee co-star Amber Riley recently revealed that she and Michele didn’t speak for two years prior to Ware’s tweet going viral. Still, she refuses to label Michele a racist.
“I am not going to say that Lea Michele’s 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,” said Riley during an interview on Real Quick with Danielle Young.
Regardless, Michele has had to face consequences for her past actions against Ware and other cast members who spoke out. She lost an endorsement deal with HelloFresh.
“It shouldn’t have to take my tweet. When you tweet, ‘Black lives matter,” that would mean you have an understanding of what that hashtag means, but it’s clear that it doesn’t,” Ware said. “Does Lea even know what a microaggression is? I don’t know. All that her apology did was affirm that she hasn’t learned anything. Am I calling Lea a racist? No. Does Lea have racist tendencies? I think Lea suffers from a symptom of living in this world in an industry that is tailored to White people.”