Samantha Ware says Lea Michele went as far to threaten her job during their time as co-stars on Glee.
In a new interview with Variety, the actress details Michele’s alleged behavior toward her and others working on the set of the musical TV series. Earlier this month, Ware publicly accused Michele of making her experience on Glee a “living hell.” After numerous other castmates came forward with their own accounts accusing Michele of mistreatment, she issued a public apology.
“I knew from day one when I attempted to introduce myself,” Ware recalled of her first impression of Michele. “There was nothing gradual about it. As soon as she decided that she didn’t like me, it was very evident. 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.”
Ware, who appeared on the sixth season of Glee as a recurring guest character, described one incident in which Michele reprimanded her in front of the cast, extras and crew.
“When you’re shooting a scene, sometimes the camera is on you and sometimes it’s not, but you still have to be in the scene,” Ware explained. “The camera wasn’t on us, so it’s not like we had to give a full throttle performance, but apparently, I was goofing around when the camera wasn’t on me, and she took that as me being disrespectful to her.”
Ware continued, “She waited until the scene was over and she stopped in the middle of the stage and did a ‘come here’ gesture, like how a mother does to their child.”
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When Ware declined Michele’s request, she told Variety, “…that’s when she decided to threaten my job, and said she would call [series creator] Ryan Murphy in to come and fire me.”
Describing the alleged confrontation as “scary,” Ware then said Michele’s demeanor escalated during a private conversation.
“When I tried to speak up for myself, she told me to shut my mouth. She said I don’t deserve to have that job,” Ware claimed. “She talked about how she has reign. And here’s the thing: I completely understood that, and I was ready to be like, ‘This is your show. I’m not here to be disrespectful.’ But at that point, we were already past the respect and she was just abusing her power.”
According to Ware, she never formally filed a complaint against Michele with the network or studio, noting to Variety that the star’s alleged actions were “nothing new.”
“I guess since it was such a common thing, my case didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” Ware said. “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.”
Michele’s team declined to comment on Ware’s allegations included in Variety‘s story. In her initial apology statement, the 33-year-old vowed to “be better in the future.”
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“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,” Michele said in part. “We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”
As for her decision to speak out about Michele, Ware said she couldn’t stay silent after seeing her former co-star mourning George Floyd‘s death in a Twitter post supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISION GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE I’LL NEVER FORGET,” Ware tweeted in response. “I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD ‘S–T IN MY WIG!’ AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD…”
Detailing Michele’s alleged comments, which Ware perceived as being racially-charged, she told Variety, “She had an issue because I had laughed [when watching a scene] and that’s when the ‘I’m going to s–t in your wig’ comment happened. Some chuckled and some gasped. It was mortifying. The whole point was for her to embarrass me. People heard her, but no one was going to stand up to her.”
Ware said that by sharing her experience, she hopes others feel empowered to speak up against injustices.
“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,” she 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.”
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