Amber Riley is setting the record straight on her feelings about Lea Michele and saying that she doesn’t “give a f***” about the drama surrounding accusations that the white lead made the show’s set a “living hell” for another black co-star.
“I am not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying,” Riley said during an Instagram Live with comedian and writer Danielle Young on Wednesday. “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.”
Riley, who played Mercedes Jones in the hit series, was reluctant to speak on the topic at all “because I am not a vindictive and petty person.” However, she did address her support for Samantha Ware, the black actress who made the public claims against Michele on Monday.
“I’m very proud of Samantha, and I FaceTimed her and spoke to her. I’m proud of her for standing up for herself. I am proud of her not being fearful in speaking her truth and if you’re feeling was, ‘I am not going to allow you to jump on what it is happening now when you didn’t treat me right,’” Riley said.
Riley also noted that while she didn’t read Michele’s public apology, Michele had reached out to Riley in the days since Ware’s experience came to light. “I responded to her, and that’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talk to that girl in two years,” Riley said. “I have no hatred or ill will on that end, and I want to make that very clear.”
She went on to say that “everyone needs to kind of chill” when it comes to the backlash that Michele has faced since, which includes criticism from other Glee co-stars and HelloFresh cutting ties with Michele. “Ya’ll dragged her for a couple of days,” Riley said, adding that Michele is pregnant.
The conversation moved on, however, to the larger issue of the culture of Hollywood, where Riley said white women are told that they are “not fireable,” while black actors are reminded that they are “expendable.” This, she explained, leads to an environment where black actors and actresses are “terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of the show.”
“We all know that a person of color and a black person is always the sidekick, is always number three, four, five, six, seven on the call sheet. Very rarely are they number one if it is not an all-black cast,” Riley said. “These networks don’t have to give a f***.”
When it comes down to the discussions of racial injustice taking place right now, Riley says she doesn’t care about the conversation surrounding Michele. “What I’m trying to do is help people understand that we need to love and support each other. ... I don’t give a s*** about this Lea Michele thing,” she said. “People are out here dying, being murdered by police. Trans people are being murdered at the hands of men who are upset about being trans-attracted.”
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Riley’s rep for comment.
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