“LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISION GIG A LIVING HELL?!?!” Samantha Ware, 28, tweeted after Lea Michele showed solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter protests over George Floyd’s death. “CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET.” Samantha accused Lea of bullying and other “TRAUMATIC MICROAGGRESSIONS” while on the set of Glee, which resulted in Lea issuing an apology for her past behavior.
“While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of skin, that’s not really the point,” said Lea, 33, in a lengthy statement posted to her Instagram on June 3. “What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people. …I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused.” While the slightly-sanctimonious response may not fully heal the rift between the Scream Queens star and Samantha (or any of the other Glee costars that have an issue with Lea), here’s what you need to know about the woman who called out Lea.
1. Samantha Is A Theatre Kid Turned Superstar. Hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, Samantha is best known as Jane Hayward on Fox’s Glee. Before that, she appeared on Broadway in productions of The Lion King, Hamilton, and The Book Of Mormon. “My biggest break was when I booked [the rule of Nala on] the Broadway show, The Lion King,” she told Glitter.
2. She is also on What/If. Samantha plays Angela on the Netflix thriller What/If. “My character, Angela, is a resident surgeon who’s always at work,” she told Pop Culturalist in 2019. “She has been married for ten years, and Keith Powers plays my husband. In this show, the characters are faced with choices. That’s where the ‘what/if’ comes in. What if you take this opportunity? Does it benefit you? Does it come with lies and deceit?”
3. Samantha still sees value in her time on Glee. “That was my first TV gig, and there was a huge learning curve; I did a lot of theatre before that,” she said to Pop Culturalist. “The great thing is that there’s a decent bridge between those two worlds—they’re all about performing. I felt like I had at least half-mastered half of that, but it was a scary, thrilling ride. It was surreal. Everyone remembers “Don’t Stop Believin'” from the pilot. It went by so quickly. It was the last season, so there was a lot of energy there with the show ending.”
4. She sees herself as more of a natural singer than an actor. She might soon add “Writer” to her lists of credits. “Singing is the more innate nature of my talent. With acting, I’ve fallen in love with being able to convey a feeling or energy with my performance. I really love acting because it’s challenging; singing feels very intimate,” she told Pop Culturist. “I’ve been doing TV for the last year and a half. The shows that I’ve been a part of have already been established, so there hasn’t been tons of room for creative expression. It’s like you’re a vessel helping portray someone else’s story, which is what I’ve learned. If I want to portray my own story, I either need to find it, or I need to write it myself. This is why I’ve been writing a lot more—I feel like I have yet to see a version of me, Sam.”
5. She’s not the only one who has called out Lea Michele. After Samantha made her accusations, other black actors shared their experiences with Lea. “GIRL YOU WOULDNT LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS CAUSE ‘I DIDNT BELONG THERE,'” tweeted Dabier Snell, who appeared on Glee in 2014. “F-CK YOU LEA.” Actress Yvette Nicole Brown said that she “felt every one of [Samantha’s] capital letters,” and Alex Newell, who portrayed Unique Adams on 39 episodes of Glee, said they “felt like claps!!” “Lea treated me so subhuman I left the set of Glee,” added actor/drag queen/singer Willam.
GIRL YOU WOULDNT LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS CAUSE “I DIDNT BELONG THERE” FUCK YOU LEA https://t.co/s4NoLdtqRs
— XSET Dabi / Ambussshking (@OfficialDabier) June 2, 2020
Lea treated me so subhuman i left the set of Glee. Pass the 🍿 https://t.co/LKCHadWLqI
— Willam (@willam) June 2, 2020
In addition to this, Newsweek reports that Lea’s relationship with her costars has been a mess for years. Barely any of Lea’s Glee cast members applauded when she introduced Lady Antebellum at the 2011 Grammys. Glee guest star Kate Hudson called her “a total diva” in a 2012 interview. Plus, Naya Rivera said that her friendship with Lea broke down to the point that they didn’t speak during Season 6.