“There was nothing gradual about it,” Ware — who played Jane Hayward on 11 episodes toward the end of the show’s six-season run — told Variety in an interview published Thursday. “It was after I did my first performance, that’s when it started – the silent treatment, the stare-downs, the looks, the comments under her breath, the weird passive aggressiveness. It all built up.”
After shooting wrapped on one of their shared scenes, the actor said Michele vowed to take things to the next level by getting her fired.
“She waited until the scene was over and she stopped in the middle of the stage and did a ‘come here’ gesture, like how a mother does to their child,” Ware said. “I said ‘No,’ and that’s when she decided to threaten my job, and said she would call [series creator] Ryan Murphy in to come and fire me.”
Following the confrontation, Ware said she “tried to speak up for myself,” but Michele wasn’t having any of it.
“She told me to shut my mouth,” Ware said. “She said I don’t deserve to have that job. She talked about how she has reign. And here’s the thing: I completely understood that, and I was ready to be like, ‘This is your show. I’m not here to be disrespectful.’ But at that point, we were already past the respect and she was just abusing her power.”
When contacted by HuffPost, a spokeswoman for Michele declined to comment on Ware’s latest claims.
A source close to Michele, who is expecting her first child later this year, said she has reached out directly to former co-stars with an apology.
Michele shot to fame on “Glee” as series lead Rachel Berry. She has been dogged by rumors about what detractors consider “diva behavior” for years. When she posted a tweet last week in support of Black Lives Matter, Ware fired back, saying that Michele had made her time on “Glee” a “living hell” with “traumatic microaggressions.”
Ware’s tweet drew a flurry of supportive responses from a number of other Black “Glee” actors, including Alex Newell and Amber Riley. Heather Morris, who played Brittany S. Pierce on the series, aired her own grievances about working with Michele, as did Broadway performers Gerard Canonico and Elizabeth Aldrich.
Meanwhile, meal-kit company HelloFresh has ended its partnership with Michele in the wake of the allegations.
In a June 3 Instagram post, Michele issued an apology in which she acknowledged she’d “clearly acted in ways that hurt other people” but emphasized that she didn’t recall the specific incident cited by Ware.
“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 any pain which I have caused,” Michele wrote. “We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”
Speaking to Variety this week, Ware said that she didn’t believe in “cancel culture” but hoped that Michele would use the controversy to educate herself on matters of white privilege.
“Does Lea even know what a microaggression is? I don’t know,” she said. “All that her apology did was affirm that she hasn’t learned anything. Am I calling Lea a racist? No. Does Lea have racist tendencies? I think Lea suffers from a symptom of living in this world in an industry that is tailored to white people.”