Former Glee star Lea Michele said she was “proud” of the show’s message of diversity and inclusion just six months before backlash began over her alleged racist behavior on the set of the beloved show.
“In the world right now, we’ve progressed in many ways, but we’re also rewinding in many ways which is unfortunate,” the 33-year-old said during an appearance on the AOL BUILD series in December 2019. “But for the little impact that we had on taking that step forward, I’m so proud and I see now television has changed so drastically in such a positive way and to think we helped crack that door open even a little bit is unbelievable.”
The Broadway alum added, “It’s such an honor to have been part of a show that was so fun and funny and entertaining, but also so important.”
The controversy began when Michele’s former costar, Samantha Ware, called her out for her tweet regarding George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement on June 1. “LMAO remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?” the 28-year-old responded. “‘Cause I’ll never forget. 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 …”
Several more of the Bronx native’s former castmates also spoke up about their experiences with her. On June 2, the Scream Queens alum lost her partnership with HelloFresh due to the allegations. Michele apologized in a statement on Instagram on June 3, where she maintained she didn’t “remember” any of the alleged instances and has “never judged” someone by their race or background.
Ware responded to Lea’s apology note the same day, calling her out using a play on words from her statement. “Perceived? Purcieved? Purse? Open your purse??????????????” the actress tweeted, including a GoFundMe link for James Scurlock, who was shot and killed during a protest in Omaha, Nebraska.
More folks who were once close to Michele professionally have opened up since her apology, including popular Glee alum Heather Morris. She tweeted Michele was “unpleasant” to work with on June 3, but also noted she does not “wish for hate to be spread” during such an important time in history.
“For Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out,” the 33-year-old wrote. “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.”
For more information, visit Blacklivesmatter.com