Lea Michele has issued a public response apologizing to a former Glee co-star after being accused of “traumatic microaggressions” and making life a “living hell” for her while working on the show’s final season together.
“I have never judged others by their background or (the) colour of their skin,” wrote the 33-year-old in a lengthy Instagram post on Wednesday that addressed the allegations.
“(But) that’s not really the point,” she added. “What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people.”
The controversy began on June 1, when Samantha Marie Ware — a Black, Kansas-based actor — took aim at the white Glee star after she posted a tweet in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Michele’s post came amid the wave of ongoing protests triggered by the death of George Floyd — a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest on May 25.
In response, Ware, 28, took to Twitter accusing her former co-star of “traumatic microaggressions” on the set of Glee.
“LMAO, remember when you made my first television gig a living hell!? ‘Cause I’ll never forget,” Ware wrote in the all-uppercase response to Michele on Monday.
“I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity, you would ‘s–t in (my) wig!’ Amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.”
“Lea Michele was already 22 years old when she started working in TV,” tweeted one user. “Immature isn’t the word … now, racist and privileged.”
“I felt every one of those capital letters,” Black Community star Yvette Nicole Brown wrote in response to Ware.
In a separate tweet, Brown continued: “Every person on a set matters. Every person on a set deserves respect. And it is the responsibility of every series regular to make every person who visits their home feel welcome. This dismissive attitude is what’s wrong in Hollywood and the world.”
Following two days of backlash, Michele took to Instagram addressing the controversy.
“When I tweeted the other day, it was meant to be a show of support for our friends and neighbours and communities of colour during this really difficult time,” she wrote in the June 3 post.
“But the responses I received have made me also focus specifically on how my own behaviour towards fellow cast members was perceived by them.”
While Michele later said she did not “remember ever” discriminating against Ware, she said that the point was that she “acted in ways which hurt other people.”
“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 behaviour and for any pain which I have caused,” Michele wrote.
“We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”
Michele, who is pregnant, said her unborn child is motivation to “better” herself and “take responsibility” for her actions.
“I am a couple of months from becoming a mother and I know I need to keep working to better myself and take responsibility for my actions, so that I can be a real role model for my child and so I can pass along my lessons and mistakes, so that they can learn from me,” she wrote.
“I listened to these criticisms and I am learning and while I am very sorry, I will be better in the future from this experience.”
Ware has not publicly responded to Michele’s apology.
Ware played the character Jane Hayward in the final season of Glee. Michele starred in the show as Rachel Berry from beginning to end (2009-2015).