Samantha Ware opens up about why she finally decided to call ‘Glee’ star Lea Michele out for bullying her on the set of the hit show
Earlier this month, Lea Michele’s former Glee co-star Samantha Ware called out the huge star for treating her inhumanely and making her first experience on the set of a show a “living hell.” After her initial tweet, several others who worked with Michele over the years also came forward with their stories, corroborating her accusations. As a result, the actress, pregnant with her first child, has lost endorsements and was forced to issue an apology. Initially provoked by Michele’s seemingly hypocritical Black Live’s Matter note of solidarity, Ware dives deeper in a new interview as to why she decided to call out the star.
Ware tells Variety that she was just 23 when she landed a gig on Glee in 2015, and she soon felt sidelined by the star.
“I knew from day one when I attempted to introduce myself. There was nothing gradual about it. As soon as she decided that she didn’t like me, it was very evident,” Ware reveals. “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 maintains that on one occasion, Michele even threatened her job in front of a large crowd of extras, dancers, and the cast.
According to Ware, she never officially reported her behavior, however most people knew it was going on.
“Lea’s actions were nothing new, so I guess since it was such a common thing, my case didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” she continues. “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.”
However, last week, when Michele tweeted, “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end” with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, Ware felt the need to speak up.
“Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget,” she responded to the tweet in all caps. “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.”
Ware spoke up during the Black Lives Matter Movement, specifically, because “everyone needs to feel heard and be validated.”
“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,” she says. “There are such imbalances of power and structures that have been fully embedded for years that just need to crumble at this point.”
As for the wig comment Ware mentioned in the tweet, it apparently happened during an intimate cast screening during a lunch break on set. And even if the racist undertone was unintentional, she believes the comment was racially charged, pointing out, “Black women historically are known for their wigs.”
“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,” Ware recalls, adding that Michele made the comment loudly so that others could hear. “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 hopes that by speaking up, it will serve as a wake-up message for all.
“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 says. “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.”
According to Variety, Michele has attempted to contact Ware to directly apologize to her. Ware declined to give our her personal information, so an email apology was sent through her representatives. Michele also issued an apology on her social media account.