Samantha Marie Ware couldn't hold back when it came to her accusations against former Glee co-star Lea Michele. The 28-year-old actress details Michele's alleged behavior toward her on the set of the Fox series and why she decided to speak out in a new interview with Variety.
Earlier this month, Ware accused Michele of making her "first television gig a living hell." Ware's actions came after Michele tweeted about George Floyd's death and referenced the Black Lives Matter movement.
"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. Does Lea even know what a microaggression is? I don’t know," Ware explains to the outlet. "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."
Ware played Jane Hayward on 11 episodes of Glee in 2015, famously auditioning for the all-male a cappella group, The Warblers. As for Michele, she portrayed Rachel Berry on the Fox show for all six seasons.
"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 recalls. “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 claims that Michele was well-known for her prima-donna behavior on set. "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 says. "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.”
Ware believes Michele's apparent dislike for her began when they were shooting a scene and she was "goofing around when the camera wasn't on me."
"And [Michele] took that as me being disrespectful to her. 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,'" Wares claims, adding that she politely refused to walk over to Michele after feeling humiliated in front of the cast and crew. "I said ‘no,’ and that’s when she decided to threaten my job, and said she would call Ryan Murphy in to come and fire me."
"It’s scary. For the full week, I was thinking I’m probably going to get an email and I might not be able to do the last three episodes, or I might not be able to sing another song," she recalls.
While Ware says she attempted to speak up with regard to Michele's alleged abuse of power, Ware claims that the actress told her to "shut my mouth."
"She said I don’t deserve to have that job. She talked about how she has reign," Ware claims Michele told her. "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."
There was an additional incident, Ware says, in which Michele allegedly told her she would "s**t in your wig" in front of others after she laughed while watching a scene.
"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," she recalls, adding that even if it was unintentional, she saw the comment as racially charged, noting, "Black women historically are known for their wigs.”
Following Ware's initial comments, Glee star Heather Morris also spoke out against Michele's behavior, as did Dabier Snell and Alex Newell. Amber Riley also posted cryptic tweets about Michele. Gerard Canonico, Michele's former Spring Awakening co-star on Broadway, also responded with his own negative experience of working with the actress.
Michele, meanwhile, did release a statement without ever naming Ware.
"When I tweeted the other day, it was meant to be a show of support for our friends and neighbors and communities of color during this really difficult time, but the responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them," she shared.
As for what was said about her behavior on set, Michele wrote, "I don't remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin.
"That's not really the point, what matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people," she continued. "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."
Ware, however, doesn't support "cancel culture" and believes everyone should get a second chance. She just couldn't stay silent on the matter and felt the need to share her own experiences.
“Now with George Floyd, people are talking. It’s sad that at the expense of trauma and abuse we are now looking, but somebody had to take the stand," she notes.
For more on Ware's initial comments and Michele's response, see below.