Amber Riley weighs in on Lea Michele controversy: 'I don't give a s---. People are out here dying'
Riley also said since the incident, numerous black actors and actresses have reached out to her sharing their own horror stories of "being terrorized by the white girls" on their shows.
While the actress and singer addressed the drama during an Instagram Live interview, she emphasized that she had bigger concerns on her plate, saying, "I don't give a s---. People are out here dying, being murdered by police."
On Monday, actress Samantha Marie Ware accused Michele of making her time on the Fox series a "living hell," which prompted a number of Glee alums, like Heather Morris and Alex Newell, to similarly speak out.
Speaking about Michele toward the end of her Instagram Live interview, Riley kept it diplomatic toward her former costar, saying she wasn't "going to say that Lea Michele is racist." However, she said the Glee set was "not the most comfortable environment" to work in and was glad Ware spoke out. The conversation was the first time Riley publicly spoke about the situation.
"I'm very proud of her for standing up for herself," Riley told journalist Danielle Young during the interview, adding that she FaceTimed with Ware this week. "I am proud of her not being fearful for speaking her truth ... [Her] feeling was, 'I am not going to allow you to jump on what is happening now when you didn’t treat me right,'" she added, referencing Michele's Black Lives Matter tweet that spurred Ware's allegations.
Riley, who's set to star in the upcoming crime thriller Infamous, also noted that the type of behavior Ware accused Michele of exhibiting is just the tip of the iceberg of the race issue in Hollywood. Riley revealed in the interview that since Ware's tweet, she's had numerous black actors reach out to her with their own horror stories in the industry.
"There were a lot of black actors and actresses that were in my inbox telling me their stories and were letting me know that they have dealt with the same things, being on set and terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of their show," Riley said. "We all know that a person of color and a black person is always the sidekick, it’s always number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 on the call sheet. Very rarely are they number one if it’s not an all-black cast."
Although she didn't specify that she was mistreated on Glee, Riley shared her own experience of being told she was "expendable" on set while the white female leads were not.
"The stories I'm reading about how white women are using their privilege and the fact that they are not fireable, something that I was told once on set after having my own complaint," she said. "They know that they are not fireable and they use that privilege to terrorize their counterparts. These networks don't have to give a f---."
"We were even told, we were expendable. The colored girls, the black girls, are expendable," Riley continued. "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."
Ultimately, Riley said it was the "first and last time" she would address the situation surrounding Michele. She also said she didn't read Michele's apology, and that it had been two years since she talked to her when the actress reached out to her this week.
"I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy, I hope that she has grown," Riley said. "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."
The actress mostly talked about her activism during the interview and how she's been participating in protests. Just yesterday, Riley delivered a beautiful live performance of "Freedom" during the sit-in outside the mayor of Los Angeles' house. Lizzo, SZA, Kehlani, Zendaya, and more attended the protest led by organizers from Black Lives Matter and Insecure actor Kendrick Sampson.