In what she says will be the first and last time she’ll address the controversy surrounding her former Glee co-star, Lea Michele, Amber Riley is discussing her experiences on the show and messages that she’s received from other Black actresses since the revelation.
For those unfamiliar, Glee actress Samantha Marie Ware called out Michele earlier this week after she posted a message on her Twitter about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.
Michele’s tweet said, “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.” Ware responded with, “LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD “SHIT IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD…”
Wednesday, Riley was interviewed on Instagram Live by entertainment journalist Danielle Young and addressed the situation.
Though Riley said she wasn’t “going to say that Lea Michele is racist,” she said that the set of the show was “not the most comfortable environment” and she was glad that Ware spoke up. Riley said that she FaceTimed with Ware after her response.
“I’m very proud of her for standing up for herself’. I am proud of her not being fearful for speaking her truth…[Her] feeling was, ‘I am not going to allow you to jump on what is happening now when you didn’t treat me right.”
Since Ware’s revelation, Riley says that she has had several Black actors and actresses send her messages about similar experiences on their own shows. “There were a lot of black actors and actresses that were in my inbox telling me their stories and were letting me know that they have dealt with the same things, being on set and terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of their show. We all know that a person of color and a black person is always the sidekick, it’s always number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 on the call sheet. Very rarely are they number one if it’s not an all-black cast.”
As far as playing the sidekick, Riverdale star Vanessa Morgan made headlines earlier this week opened up about similar issues on her show, revealing that she was the least-paid series regular. She also insinuated dissatisfaction with the storyline of her character (who she referred to as a “token biracial bisexual”) and the show’s other Black characters who have since been written off.
“The stories I’m reading about how white women are using their privilege and the fact that they are not fireable, something that I was told once on set after having my own complaint,” said Riley. “They know that they are not fireable and they use that privilege to terrorize their counterparts. These networks don’t have to give a f**k. We were even told, we were expendable. The colored girls, the Black girls, are expendable. I’m talking about the culture of Hollywood right now and how they treat Black characters, Black men, Black women. I’m talking about the culture.”
Riley went on to say that she hadn’t talked to Michele in two years before she reached out following the controversy. “I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown. That [statement] she put out, I didn’t read it because I told y’all I don’t give a s**t about it…. She reached out to me, I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill will on that end.”
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