Amber Riley splits hairs: ‘I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist’

Essence Awards Luncheon 2019

I feel like the Lea Michele conversation is being slightly derailed over questions about whether Lea Michele is a racist who treats people terribly or simply a wig sh-tting diva who treats people terribly. I guess the splitting hairs about “but is she a racist” is an okay conversation to have, it’s just that I think that in the long run, it doesn’t matter – if it turns out that Lea is not racist and she’s simply awful, will she be un-cancelled? No. But still, the hair-splitting continues. So far, Samantha Ware shared her story of Lea threatening to sh-t in her wig on the Glee set, and she was backed up by many of Lea’s old coworkers. After that, Hello Fresh fired Lea and they said it was because they “do not condone racism.” I assume that they felt there was something racial/racist in the way Lea bullied a young African-American actress, even though Samantha did not specifically say Lea had racist intentions/motives.

After that, Lea released one of the worst apologies I’ve ever read, a word salad of nonsense which showed us that she’s not sorry for anything, that she’s still a monster and she’s obsessed with how people falsely perceive her for threatening to sh-t in their wigs. Amber Riley worked with Lea for years on Glee, and Amber was one of the first people to tweet support to Samantha. This week, Amber had more to say on the Lea situation:

Amber on whether Lea is racist: “I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying. 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. She’s also pregnant and I think that everybody needs to chill. Y’all dragged her for a couple of days.”

On the larger issue: “But at the same time, in my inbox there are a lot of black actors and actresses telling me their stories and were letting me know they have dealt with the same things being on set, being terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show,” she said. Riley explained that non-white actors typically play the “sidekick” to a white lead — a “culture” in the industry that fosters the lack of diversity. “We were even told, we were expendable; the colored girls, the black girls are expendable. I’m talking about the culture of Hollywood right now and how they treat black characters, black men, black women. I’m talking about the culture.”

She spoke to Lea this week for the first time in two years: “I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown… That [statement] she put out, I didn’t read it because I told y’all I don’t give a s— about it. … She reached out to me, I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill will on that end. I want to make that very clear.”

[From People]

“I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying.” Okay. Again, no one is stepping up to say that Lea is actually an amazing person who treats coworkers with respect. Literally no one. Right now, all of Lea’s old coworkers are trying to work out Lea’s motives for being so horrible to everyone, at all times.

Lea Michele at a public appearance for L...

Photos courtesy of WENN.

Related stories

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

17 Responses to “Amber Riley splits hairs: ‘I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. LidiaJara says:

    My take away on that is that it’s not Amber Riley’s job to tell us Lea Michelle is racist. She already experienced harassment and risked retaliation by confirming the harassment. Black women should not have to set themselves up as the target by going on TV to point out someone is racist.

    Telling people that you are going to “sh*t in [a Black woman's] wig” is racist. Did she go around saying she was going to sh*t in Heather Morris’ wig? No. It’s racist. Amber Riley doesn’t need to take on any more responsibility to tell us that. She never should have had to put up with Lea in the first place. White people do better.

    • Yellowrocket says:

      Yes!!!!! Sing this louder for the people in the back.

      She could have said she wanted to shit in her coffee, in her cereal, in her shoes. No, this bitch wanted to shit in her wig.

      She’s Racist AF.



    • Lisa says:

      I love your answer. It’s our responsibility to put two and two together. Her black victims will only suffer more (job-wise) if they openly label her as racist. They shouldn’t have to because it’s clear.

      And it’s very likely that Lea didn’t genuinely consider herself above black people when she bullied her coworkers. But those were the people who were the most vulnerable in their job security. Hollywood creates that kind of environment, where black sidekicks to white leads eventually become the most expendable.

      So Lea should’ve done better. She should have been smart enough to see the twofold impact of bullying her black coworkers. That’s the problem with white people when they’re unable to see their privilege and think racism isn’t relevant to their lives.

    • lucy2 says:

      Well said. I definitely agree that what she said to Samantha had a racism element to it. I think Lea’s abuse was very widespread, as Heather implied, but the specific attack she used to Samantha is very telling.

      I’d be really curious to know in what way Lea contacted Amber – to reach out and apologize for mistreating her in the past, or to try to get Amber to defend her. I’m guessing the latter…

      On a side note, I only watched the first season or so of Glee, but Amber was always a standout and her voice is incredible. She’s been doing theater, but I’d love to see her in more TV and film projects. And YES to her comments about sidekicks and the abuses black actors face on set.

      • SomeChick says:

        She was great on Dancing with the Stars too. I’ve never seen Glee, so that was my introduction to her. She seems like someone who would be a good friend.

  2. BonnieT says:

    That’s what I’ve been getting from all this- she’s an equal opportunist when it comes to being a shithead to anybody. Like, alright, neat she’s not racist, but she’s still a horrible person. Some sins are not the same, but equal. Can we all agree not to give this thirsty tryhard any more attention?

  3. LaraK says:

    I read this as, it’s not the point if she’s racist or not.
    1. Lea is a terrible person who treated her co-workers abominably
    2. There is a culture of systemic racism in Hollywood that marginalizes actors of color, and supports white “lead” actors that treat them badly
    The intersectionality of 1 and 2 doesn’t matter. It’s not worth arguing about.
    They just both need fixing.

    • Christina says:

      I think she does think it matters, but Amber Riley can’t discuss what she really thinks because it will easily jeopardize her ability to work in the industry. Based on what she DID say, she needs to keep her paychecks. She has 11 acting roles on her IMDB and 76 appearances on reality shows and the like. I hope that she breaks through. Hollywood is tough, but much tougher for POC who don’t become Kevin Hart or Eddie Murphy.

  4. Nia says:

    I feel a little schadenfreude now… Being a victim of bullying myself, I do feel a hint of joy when bullies get their reckoning. But I also believe in redemption and that kids make mistakes. I just feel some joy in that phase where bullies meet the reckoning point right before they can choose to double down or become a better person.

    Lea is or was a bully. She is or was a racist bully. I hope she checks herself and learns something. And I hope she ducks out of celeb life.

  5. Margles says:

    The thing is, who cares about the state of Lea’s heart and whether she was racist deep down? The racist system meant that Lea had carte blanche to abuse POCs. When the entire world is racist, privilege means that racism infects everything.

    • Jess says:

      Margles, that’s a great point. Lea may just be a crappy person who treats everybody with less power horribly, but because of our system she knows (just like Amy Cooper) that she can treat women of color poorly without any consequences, while she may not be able to treat white co-stars the same.

      • Dear dear says:

        Totally. Amy Cooper, Lana Del Rey, Lena Dunham, Lea Michele, Allison Roman, Myka Stauffer might be stressed with a few days of social media attacks but in real life, they know they’ll be just fine, they just wait it out a bit and go on with their business… For them, it’s a bad week, for black people, it’s a lifetime of struggles.

  6. T says:

    How is saying you are going to sh*t in a black woman’s wig NOT racist?

  7. Steph says:

    Just to point out an error in the story not bc I support Lea the diva)- a few costars have made statements supporting her. Check buzzfeed for their statements.

  8. Hello Kitty says:

    How is it not racist? Many African American women (especially those in entertainment) choose to wear wigs to protect their natural hair. Lea threatened to shit in Samantha’s wig. Does she threaten to shit in non-black women’s wig or hair? Probably not.

  9. Dear dear says:

    Amber would rather not suffer retaliation for being labeled as “difficult” or an “angry black woman” because these racially charged labels are used to discredit and minimize complaints from black people since the beginning of time in America when they enslaved black people. Remember that the “kind, nice natured” slaves were rewarded with the “honor” of being house slaves. Many black characters are still poorly written and sound often just stereotypical so black actors do feel often expendable and have a lot of job insecurity. This inequity follows black people until this day and when they complain, they make white people uncomfortable because it reminds white people they don’t share the same difficulties in life. Amber is behaving like many successful black actors in Hollywood by being gracious and not calling it what lots of us know it was: racism. Most producers, content creators, directors and studio owners are white so it does matter to black actors how they behave in these situations.

    6 months from now, Lea’s career will be back on track, she’ll keep using her baby to be perceived as nice and all will be forgotten.

  10. L4frimaire says:

    It seems like she’s horrible to work with in general, regardless of race.