Amber Riley is addressing accusations made against her former “Glee” co-star Lea Michele by other black actors on the set of the Fox musical series.
Days after Michele began trending on Twitter following former “Glee” castmember Samantha Marie Ware’s accusation the actress of making her experience on set “a living hell,” Riley, who played Mercedes Jones in the series, explained her thoughts on the controversy during an Instagram Live conversation with journalist Danielle Young.
Michele has since apologized.
Riley and Young’s discussion focused on racism and the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. But Riley also took a moment to address Michele’s behavior, saying that she doesn’t think the actress is racist.
“I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying,” Riley 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.”
“She’s also pregnant and I think that everybody needs to chill. Y’all dragged her for a couple of days,” she added.
But Riley didn’t let Michele off the hook altogether.
“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 continued.
She also explained that actors of color are often cast as the “side-kick” to white actors, and that she has been told that “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 said.
But Riley made it clear that she has “no hatred or ill will” towards Michele and that she wishes her well.
“I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown,” Riley said, adding that she didn’t read the statement but that Michele reached out to her personally. “I responded to her and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years.”
Representatives for “Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy, the Fox broadcast network and “Glee” studio 20th Century Fox Television have not responded to TheWrap’s request for comment on Ware’s remarks about Michele’s on-set behavior.