About a year ago, actress Samantha Ware told the whole world what it was like working on Glee back in the day with Lea Michele, and it pretty much confirmed that Lea Michele is the worst parts of Rachel Berry, all wrapped up in a yard of intimidation and topped with a vindictive bow. Many former Glee cast members and actors who have worked with Lea came forward with their own stories, and the general consensus was that if Lea was on set, no one was having a good time but Lea. Heather Morris, who played Brittany on Glee, recently spoke about Lea’s behavior, and she said that pretty much everyone but Naya Rivera stayed silent when it came to Lea’s alleged reign of terror.
During the great Lea Michele reckoning of June 2020, Heather released a statement on Twitter, in which she urged people not to be spreading hate, even if Lea’s “unpleasant” behavior should be called out. She also kind of said that Lea can be called out for being awful, but that people should maybe think twice before calling Lea racist. Samantha Ware, who is Black, said that she decided to speak up in the first place after she questioned Lea’s sudden vocal support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Instagram, as Samantha felt she was a very real and direct target of Lea’s hate while filming Glee. Heather recently appeared on the Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino podcast, and she spoke about some of the backlash she got for her statement, from people who thought it sounded a little wishy-washy. Heather agrees that it was, but says she didn’t want to pile on Lea too hard because Lea was very pregnant at the time. But also, because maybe Heather was working through some of her own bullied-by-Lea trauma. via UsWeekly:
“I remember getting so much shade and people were like, ‘Why don’t you go out and say it?’ And I’m like, ‘Guys, she’s pregnant and all this stuff is going around.’ And it’s true, I don’t know if maybe we were victims of bullying, and it’s a very victim thing to do to blame yourself, which is what people were saying, but…the only person who was honest about it was Naya [Rivera].”
Back when Glee was still on the air, there were many reports that Naya and Lea didn’t get along (to put it mildly), a fact that was later confirmed by Naya in her memoir Sorry Not Sorry. After Naya’s tragic death, the cast of Glee came together for a tribute to Naya at the GLAAD Awards, but Lea wasn’t included, for obvious reasons. And the way Heather tells it, it sounds like Naya was the only one on set who had the guts to say one word about Lea. Because no one else did, apparently:
“It was something that was very hush-hush on set, and now you see all these things coming out with these bigger names who were very disrespectful and mistreated a lot of people. We absolutely could have stepped up and gone to the Fox execs and said how we felt about the situation, but no one did…I think many people were very scared, and I know, genuinely, I felt like it wasn’t my place, and I don’t know why because I was a cast member.”
Of course, they were scared! We know what kind of stuff Lea was doing totally unprovoked – imagine if she thought she had a reason? People would leave the set with their whole heads torn off.
Heather adds that things got worse after Lea’s boyfriend and Glee star Cory Monteith died of an overdose in 2013 because nobody really wanted to be the one to run to HR and drag a grieving person.
“We all got close with Lea at different points, and then we all weren’t as close with her. So there’s that human element to understanding who this person is, growing with that person, seeing her try to become better and taking care of herself after Cory’s passed. It was just the elephant in the room.”
I know Brittany was an airhead with a heart of gold, and so maybe a little teeny tiny bit of Brittany is there inside Heather, trying to find the good in Lea. But Heather was close to Naya Rivera on-screen and off, so it’s unlikely that Heather’s goal here is to help Lea rehab her image and get those HelloFresh sponsorships back. But I’m sure Lea will gladly take Heather’s comments as a ringing endorsement of her. “She said there’s a human element to me – a human! See? I’m not a full-blooded demon beast from Hell.”