There’s a lot of performative allyship pinging around the internet right now. While messages of solidarity are important, living a life of anti-racism means calling out discrimination IRL and taking action on a daily basis to dismantle the parts of our society that systematically disenfranchise Black Americans.
Over the weekend, actress Lea Michele tweeted #BlackLivesMatter in response to George Floyd’s murder. But her former Glee co-star, Samantha Marie Ware, found the sentiment to be disingenuous, considering how poorly she says Michele treated Ware and Glee’s other POC cast members.
Ware said Michele made her first TV gig, playing student singer Jane Hayward on Glee’s sixth season, a “living hell,” adding that Michele told everyone she’d “shit in my wig” if given the opportunity, “amongst other traumatic microaggressions.” Ware wrote the bullying made her seriously question a career in Hollywood.
Other black actors who appeared on Glee supported Ware’s allegations. Black Lightning actor Dabier, who had a role in a 2014 episode of the series, also responded to Michele’s #BlackLivesMatter tweet with: “Girl, you wouldn’t let me sit at the table with the other cast members cause ‘I didn’t belong there.’ Fuck you Lea.”
Glee star Amber Riley, who played Mercedes Jones on the show, was slightly more enigmatic, using a gif of herself to seemingly corroborate the claims. Alex Newell, who played vocalist Unique Adams on Glee’s third season, went a similar route.
This isn’t the first time Michele’s been accused of tyrannous behavior on-set, but they’re certainly the most troubling allegations connected to her. Around 2014, it was reported that Michele and co-star Naya Rivera were feuding, with speculation that Michele had gotten Rivera fired from the series. That turned out to be untrue, but Rivera’s tell-all memoir from 2016 details plenty of other diva-ish behavior, including Michele stalling production and locking herself in her trailer.
Michele hasn’t responded to the controversy surrounding her yet. But the incident underscores the importance of living a life that aligns with the views you espouse online. Tweets alone won’t change the tide of racism in this country; only persistent activism in the real world can do that.