In 2020, Lea Michele came under scrutiny when several of her former Glee castmates publicly spoke out against her.
The star rose to fame in 2009 after landing the role of Rachel Berry on the musical series, but not everybody enjoyed working with her on the show.
Samantha Ware started the discourse when she said that Lea made her time on Glee “a living hell” and accused her of making a series of racial microaggressions during filming, including threatening to “shit” in her wig.
Amber Riley and Heather Morris were quick to throw their support behind Samantha, with the latter claiming that Lea was “very” unpleasant to work with.
Naya Rivera, who died in 2020, said that Lea would pointedly ignore her during their time together on Glee and “didn’t like sharing the spotlight.”
More recently, Chris Colfer and Kevin McHale hinted at bad blood with Lea when they brazenly admitted that they would not be supporting her in Funny Girl after she landed the role on Broadway last year.
In October, Chris was asked if he was going to see the show while in New York, and he replied: “My day suddenly just got so full.” He went on to add that he “can be triggered at home.”
And just last month, Lea came under fire in the three-part series The Price of Glee, where crew member Garrett Greer branded her a “narcissist” who would cause “conflict” if she felt that her position on the show was under threat.
Dabier Snell — who appeared in a Season 4 episode of the show — also recalled Lea banning him from sitting with the main cast during their lunch break because she didn’t think that he belonged.
Now, in a profile for Interview magazine, Lea has addressed the negative reports and said that she has used recent years for self-reflection after having “eye-opening” conversations with her former costars.
She also admitted that she is “so grateful” to be able to use her life lessons from the last decade “in a positive way” and apply them to her Funny Girl role.
“I think these past two years have been so important for everybody to just sit back and reflect. I did a lot of personal reach-outs. But the most important thing was for everybody to just take a step back,” she said.
“More than anything, I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to apply the things that I’ve learned over the past ten-plus years in a positive way. What I told myself stepping into Funny Girl was, ‘If I can’t take my role as a leader offstage as important as my role as a leader onstage, then I shouldn’t do this show,’” Lea went on. “Because that was always a struggle for me.”
Divulging some more detail on the private conversations that she has had in the wake of the backlash, Lea explained: “At the end of the day, what matters the most is how you make people feel. And you have to put aside your feelings. The conversations that I’ve had behind the scenes with some people were incredibly healing and very eye-opening for me.”
“I’ve been doing this for a really long time and I’m not going to ever blame anything on the things that I’ve been through in my life,” she concluded. “But you also can’t ignore those experiences or deny them. They are a part of the patchwork of my life.”
This is not the first time that Lea has acknowledged the allegations against her. In September, she told the New York Times that Samantha’s 2020 comments had sparked an “intense time of reflection” for her.
She added of her time on Glee: “I have an edge to me. I work really hard. I leave no room for mistakes. That level of perfectionism, or that pressure of perfectionism, left me with a lot of blind spots.”
Elsewhere in Interview, Lea said that she trusts her best friend Jonathan Groff to give her honest feedback in both her personal and professional life.
“I think that it can get very noisy in this industry and in life with so many people’s opinions and thoughts. But at the end of the day, if it’s personal or if it’s professional, he is my barometer,” she shared.
Lea’s comments come just weeks after she was accused of moving Sadie Sink out of the way so that she could be center stage when they were both guests on The Tonight Show.
A clip from last month’s TV appearance circulated online as Sadie was praised for the “humble” way that she responded to Lea’s actions, while Lea was called “disrespectful” and “immature.”