Lea Michele Addresses the Backlash from Her Former “Glee” Costars

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Lea Michele Addresses the “Glee” BacklashTheo Wargo - Getty Images

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In 2020, Lea Michele came under scrutiny after her former Glee costars accused the actress of mean-girl behavior, microaggressions, and bullying on-set of the Ryan Murphy-led series. Now, in conversation with playwright Jeremy O. Harris for Interview magazine, Lea addresses the backlash and reveals that she’s had conversations with her former castmates since.

“I think these past two years have been so important for everybody to just sit back and reflect. I did a lot of personal reach-outs,” Lea began.

“At the end of the day, what matters the most is how you make people feel. And you have to put aside your feelings. The conversations that I’ve had behind the scenes with some people were incredibly healing and very eye-opening for me,” she continued. “I’ve been doing this for a really long time and I’m not going to ever blame anything on the things that I’ve been through in my life. But you also can’t ignore those experiences or deny them. They are a part of the patchwork of my life.”

Back in 2020, actress Samantha Ware, who starred as Jane Hayward in season 6 of Glee, alleged on Twitter that Lea made her life a “living hell,” according to Variety. “I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘s— in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood,” Samantha wrote.

In an interview with Variety, the actress explained that it was “very evident” that Lea didn’t like her. “It was after I did my first performance, that’s when it started – the silent treatment, the stare-downs, the looks, the comments under her breath, the weird passive aggressiveness. It all built up,” she shared. “I remember the first day I actually spoke up and unfortunately no one did anything. They just shrugged it off, like ‘That’s her.’ No one was stopping these things, which is an issue because the environment was helping perpetuate this abuse.”

At the time, other Glee stars, including Amber Riley and Heather Morris, weighed in on Lea’s problematic on-set behavior. Heather tweeted in June 2020 that Lea was “unpleasant” to work with — “very much so,” she emphasized. Meanwhile, during an interview on Real Quick with Danielle Young, Amber shared, “I’m not going to say that [Lea’s] racist… But at the same time, in my inbox there are a lot of Black actors and actresses telling me their stories and letting me know they have dealt with the same things on set, being terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show.”

Following the accusations, Lea issued an apology on Instagram in June 2020. “I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” she wrote, per Variety. “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.”

In her discussion with Interview, Lea acknowledged her role as Fanny Brice in Broadway’s Funny Girl revival and explained that it’s been a chance for her to grow and rectify her past mistakes.

“What I told myself stepping into Funny Girl was, ‘If I can’t take my role as a leader offstage as important as my role as a leader onstage, then I shouldn’t do this show,’” she said. “Because that was always a struggle for me. So to have this opportunity now at 36 years old as a wife and a mother — to step into this job that comes with so much pressure and a huge amount of responsibility — was a very, very big achievement for me.”

“When I got the call that I was going to play Fanny Brice, I said, ‘Okay, this could be really big for my career, but it’s also helpful to have this opportunity to introduce people to who I am now,’” she added.

None of Lea’s former Glee castmates have responded to her most recent comments with Interview.

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