Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY
Published 7:39 p.m. ET June 4, 2020 | Updated 8:08 p.m. ET June 4, 2020
Seth Rogen is the latest celebrity to use his platform to both support “Black Lives Matter” and criticize those who respond with “All Lives Matter.”
Riley, 34, spoke on Instagram Live with journalist Danielle Young Thursday, in an interview about the continuing Black Lives Matter protests. She also briefly addressed (at minute 43) the controversy around Michele from the Fox musical series.
Riley said she was proud of “Glee” co-star Samantha Ware for originally speaking out about Michele, saying “I’m proud of her of not being fearful and telling her truth.”
Ware, who appeared in the final “Glee” season, called out Michele on Twitter June 1 after the singer and actress tweeted using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
“REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?!” Ware wrote. “CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD “(expletive) IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD.”
As accusations of Michele’s alleged diva behavior continued to surface this week, Riley clarified one point on Thursday. “I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying,” she said. “That was the assumption because of what’s going on right now in the world and it happened toward a black person. I’m not going to say that she’s racist.”
Riley, who played Mercedes Jones in the series, added that Michele is expecting her first child. “She’s also pregnant and I think that everybody needs to kind of chill. Y’all have dragged her for a couple of days.”
But Riley also noted she had recently received many messages from black actors saying they had been terrorized by white leads on their own TV shows and felt they couldn’t speak up.
Riley added she hopes Michele “has grown.” She revealed she had recently communicated with Michele for the first time in two years. “She reached out to me, I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me.”
Lea Michele apologizes: After ‘Glee’s Samantha Ware accuses her of ‘traumatic microaggressions’
Riley had previously shared GIFs of herself raising her hand and sipping tea without making any specific comments to the original Ware tweet. Riley said during the Thursday interview that she was joking with the GIFs, but that she didn’t feel the “Glee” issue was important in light of pressing social issues.
“People are out here dying, being murdered by police,” said Riley.
Meal kit delivery service Hello Fresh, which had sponsored Michele, announced Tuesday it had ended its partnership with her “effective immediately.”
Michele addressed Ware’s and other accusations on Wednesday on Instagram.
“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,” Michele wrote.
“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,” Michele continued in her statement.
Michele denied having any recollection of “ever making this specific statement” and said she “never judged others by their background or color of their skin.”
“That’s not really the point,” Michele added. “What matters is that I clearly 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 behavior and for any pain which I have caused. We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect my own shortcomings.”
Various “Glee” cast members have weighed in, as well as Michele co-stars from other projects.
Yvette Nicole Brown, who starred alongside Michele in the 2017 ABC sitcom “The Mayor,” responded to Ware’s tweet that she “felt every one of those capital letters.”
Former “Glee” star Heather Morris took to Twitter on Wednesday to give her take on the issue.
“Let me be very clear, Hate is a disease in America that we are trying to cure, so I would never wish for hate to be spread to anyone else,” Morris wrote. “With that said, was she unpleasant to work with? Very much so.”
Morris went on to say that she believes Michele should be called out for treating others “with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did.” While Morris condemned Michele’s behavior, she did not directly accuse Michele of racism.
“And yet, it’s also on us, because to allow it to go on for so long without speaking out is something else we’re learning along with the rest of society,” she continued. “But, at the current moment its implied that she is a racist, and although I cannot comment on her beliefs, I think we’re assuming, and you know what happens when we all assume…”
Contributing: Charles Trepany, Hannah Yasharoff
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