Black Actors Speak out About Working With Lea Michele

Black Actors Speak out About Working With Lea Michele

Marissa Matozzo

Many celebrities are speaking out this week against police brutality and systemic racism in light of George Floyd's killing at the hands of police. Whether they're urging followers to donate to bail funds, encouraging us to call politicians or posting a questionable black square and signing off, famous people are flooding our feeds rather than amplifying Black voices first and foremost. Now, several Glee stars are taking to Twitter to enlighten us that not every supportive message from a celebrity can be taken at face value. Case in point: Lea Michele.

Michele tweeted this weekend that Floyd's murder was undeserved, was "not an isolated incident" and police brutality "must end."

This didn't sit well with some of Michele's fellow ex-Glee cast members, who didn't recall her having as much empathy for Black colleagues on set. It all started with Glee actor Samantha Ware, who played Jane Hayward on the show. On Monday, she replied to Michele's Tweet, claiming that the actress made her first television gig "a living hell." She recalled one time when Michele told "everyone" that if she had the chance, she'd shit in Ware's wig, but qualified that this was just one among many of Michele's "TRAUMATIC MICROAGGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD."

Glee castmembers and other Black actors were quick to back up Ware. Alex Newell, who played Unique Adams, affirmed her, saying "we ain't got not a damn thing to lie about six years later," and "when my friends goes through something I also go through it."

Amber Riley, who played Mercedes Jones on Glee for six years, dropped a subtle tea-sipping gif, evidently in reference to Ware's tweet. Us Weekly also caught that Melissa Benoist, who played Marley Grace on season four of Glee, liked Newell and Riley's tweets. Stars like Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron and Kevin McHale have yet to comment.

Dabier Snell, who appeared in a 2014 episode of Glee also responded to Michele's initial tweet, and shared his own story.

Community star Yvette Nicole Brown, who didn't appear on Glee but co-starred with Michele on 2017 sitcom The Mayor, also indicated she'd had bad experiences with her on set.

In addition to famous actors, a slew of behind-the-scenes industry members shared their own alleged experiences working on crews or sets with Michele.

In response to the allegations, meal-kit company HelloFresh was quick to announce that they were cutting ties with Michele and were taking her co-stars' claims "seriously."

The whole ordeal is emblematic of a new movement of online discourse, in which brands and celebrities are held accountable to the politics they preach online in their professional and personal lives. Will we soon live in a world where white people can't score political clout without real praxis?

Photos via Getty