Amber Riley has added her voice to the chorus of "Glee" veterans commenting on Samantha Marie Ware accusing star Lea Michele of vulgar and disrespectful behavior on set.
"I will say this on behalf of Samantha Ware: I'm very proud of her for standing up for herself … I am proud of her not being fearful and speaking her truth," Riley, 34, who played Mercedes Jones on the 2009-15 Fox high school music series, said in an Instagram Live interview Wednesday night with writer Danielle Young. While Ware is African American, "I am not going to say that Lea Michele is racist," Riley continued, adding, "That was the assumption because of what's going on right now in the world and it happened toward a black person."
Without specifying Michele, Riley went on to note that she and other black performers have encountered "white women … using their privilege and the fact that they are 'not fireable' — something that I was told once on set after having my own complaint — … and they use that privilege to terrorize their counterparts."
Also Wednesday, actor Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins, declared that Michele had never mistreated him during their time working in the show.
“Lot of people r assuming that @LeaMichele mistreated me. Let me state it clearly that I was never mistreated by her,” Theba, who was born and raised in Pakistan, tweeted. “And if some of the cast were treated badly then she has apologized for it which is wonderful.”
“Being called a racist is too heavy & unfair a burden 4 most ... of us, specially in these troubled times,” wrote Theba, 56.
Earlier Wednesday, fellow "Glee" star Heather Morris, 33, tweeted in response to Ware's accusations toward Michele, "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 on anyone else. With that said, was she unpleasant to work with? Very much so; for Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out."
Morris, who played Brittany Pierce on the show, added a larger perspective, saying, "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. But, at the current moment it's 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 …"
Michele, 33, apologized Tuesday after Ware, who played Jane Hayward in 11 episodes, tweeted accusations that Michele put her through "a living hell," describing a scatological threat and alleging "other traumatic microagressions that made me question a career in Hollywood."
In a long Instagram post in response, Michele said, "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."
Ware, 28, appeared to respond to Michele's apology Wednesday by tweeting, "Perceived?” She added cryptically, "Purcieved? Purse? Open your purse??????????????" Ware then provided a link to a fundraising campaign for the family of James Scurlock, a 22-year-old African American man fatally shot by a white bar-owner in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday under disputed circumstances.
Michele has not commented further on social media.