Celebs Who Can't Stand Lea Michele

Lea Michele has been an entertainment industry darling (with a net worth to show for it) since her breakout performance in the 2006 Tony-winning rock musical Spring Awakeningleading to her beloved role as Rachel Berry on Fox's musical teen show Glee. Michele's career has included film roles, musical projects, and additional starring turns on TV, but through it all, her Glee character has been her most enduring success. Perhaps that's why it's been so shocking that Michele's career has been followed by rumors that she's been an unkind coworker on her TV sets, with the goss mainly being thrown around from her former Glee co-stars.

Hollywood A-listers have directed shade towards Michele for years, but things came to a head in the spring of 2020, when Michele was hit with racism accusations from actors who appeared in a variety of roles on Glee, from the series' stars to ensemble members, as well as criticism from her former Broadway co-stars. All of the complaints struck a similar chord, claiming that Michele was inconsiderate and unkind to her coworkers. Michele, who confirmed she was pregnant with her first child in May 2020, apologized for her behavior in an Instagram post, but accusations continued to follow the Scream Queens star even after her mea culpa. Read on for all the famous names who have vocalized their issues with Michele on social media and beyond. 

Naya Rivera's broken friendship

Naya Rivera, who played Santana on Glee alongside Lea Michele's character of Rachel, reportedly got in an on-set fight with Michele in 2014, and sounded the alarm on her co-star years ago in her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing UpRivera described how the two began as friends both on-set at Glee and in real life, but as the show went on, "that friendship started to break down, especially as Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time ... (she) didn't like sharing the spotlight." 

While Rivera also accused Michele in Sorry Not Sorry of being overly sensitive and untrustworthy, she later claimed on a 2019 episode of Watch What Happens Live that she and Michele didn't have any bad blood between them, and confirmed that she had liked Michele's Instagram post announcing her engagement to Zandy Reich. "I did not speak to her, but everyone sees Instagram, right?" she said about the interaction. "I don't think there was any beef."

Samantha Ware ignites a firestorm

Samantha Ware, who appeared as the character of Jane Hayward on season six of Glee, set off a social media firestorm when she replied to Lea Michele's May 2020 tweet mourning the death of George Floyd by sharing her own racially-tinged experience with Michele. "George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end," Michele tweeted, to which Ware responded, "Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?" Ware went on to accuse Michele of "microaggressions" like threatening to "sh*t in [her] wig," claiming Michele's actions "made [her] question a career in Hollywood." 

Days later, Michele apologized in an Instagram post, atoning, "I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused," adding that she'd been "[focusing] specifically on how [her] own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them." Ware seemingly took issue with Michele's word choice, posting on Twitter, "Perceived? Purcieved? Purse? Open your purse?" with a link to a social justice GoFundMe. 

Amber Riley alludes to drama

Along with Naya Rivera, Amber Riley was another high-profile woman of color who co-starred on Glee with Lea Michele, and just like Rivera, Riley's friendship with Michele hasn't always been so easy. After Samantha Ware accused Michele of racism in a June 2020 tweet, Riley hinted that she also had bad blood with Michele. As accusatory tweets from Michele's former co-stars began to go viral, Riley tweeted a gif of her sipping tea, followed by another gleeful reaction post. 

Beyond the suggested shade, Riley didn't seem to want to verbally insult Michele, claiming on Instagram Live that she "didn't give a sh*t" about Michele's apology and that the Glee set was "not the most comfortable environment," but that she didn't believe Michele was racist and wished her former coworker well. The Internet wasn't finished with relitigating Riley and Michele's relationship, though, with a viral tweet resurfacing an old Glee interview with Michele and Riley, where Riley is seen shooting Michele a death stare when Michele tells the camera that the Glee cast had "a lot of fun" filming. 

Heather Morris called Lea Michele 'unpleasant'

Heather Morris, who played Brittany on Glee, chimed in after several of her co-stars accused Lea Michele of creating a toxic on-set environment. Shortly after Michele shared an Instagram apology for complaints she'd been receiving from her Glee counterparts, Morris shot back with her own statement, writing that while she didn't think Michele should be treated with hate, she was still "unpleasant to work with."Morris continued, "For Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out," before taking responsibility for allowing Michele's behavior to continue. "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." Needless to say, Morris and Michele most likely aren't pals.

Morris hadn't previously spoken out against Michele, but in earlier interviews, she seemingly took care to praise nearly every other main Glee character other than Michele's Rachel Berry, telling Vanity Fair in 2010 that Kurt, Mercedes, and Artie were her favorites, and telling Advocate in 2010 that she and Naya Rivera were best friends off-screen. 

Alex Newell supports the Lea Michele shade

Fellow Glee castmate Alex Newell had his own words for Lea Michele after Samantha Ware called out the actress on Twitter, sharing several positive reactions to Ware's tweet. "Child, we ain't got not a damn thing to lie about 6 years later!" he tweeted at Ware, also accusing the show of "releasing" him "while being a series regular," and claiming he "had to ask to come back so [he] could pay [his] bills."

Newell also shared his own words in support of his Glee co-stars. "When my friends [go] through something traumatic I also go through it," he wrote. "That's what friendship is ... and if you can't understand that then you're part of the problem." When one hater replied to Newell's tweet claiming that his words jeopardized his chances to work with the Glee cast again, writing"And that's why you won't be in the reboot," Newell appeared unbothered, replying with a GIF of Lizzo shrugging.

Jeanté Godlock was hurt by Lea Michele's remarks

Samantha Ware's June 2020 tweet calling out Lea Michele also inspired actress Jeanté Godlock, who appeared in Glee's ensemble cast, to accuse Michele of speaking in a derogatory manner about the show's background actors. "Did somebody say cockroaches?" Godlock tweeted, responding to Ware. "Because that's what she used to refer to the background as on the set of Glee. But we grow up and we don't stay background forever sooooo..." 

Godlock also claimed to remember an incident on the Glee set in which Michele complained about a background performer standing too close to her, and liked a series of tweets from other Twitter commenters agreeing with her and claiming they also heard Michele's offensive comments.

Following her background work on Glee, Godlock broke through with the 2018 TV movie Simone Biles: Courage to Soar, in which she played the Olympian gymnast main character, and also starred in Netflix' Daybreak series in 2019. 

Aviva Drescher has major beef with Lea Michele

Criticism of Lea Michele also came from outside the Glee cast, with The Real Housewives of New York starlet Aviva Drescher making known her own negative experience with the actress. The drama began with an exchange Michele had with host Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live in 2014 (via Us Weekly), in which she discussed her favorite RHONY characters, siding with Carole Radziwill who was at the time feuding with Drescher. "I love the New York housewives," Michele said on the show. "Carole is a very good friend of mine ... So team Carole 100 percent." Calling Drescher out, Michele continued, "I don't know what I would do if I ever saw Aviva. She would have to turn the other way."

Fast forward to June 2020, when Michele apologized in an Instagram statement after receiving social media heat from her co-stars, only for Drescher to comment on the post, taking Michele to task. "You were once very unkind to me so I am not surprised by your behavior," Drescher wrote. "You shouldn't judge others before looking in the mirror."

Yvette Nicole Brown talks 'respect' on TV sets

Yvette Nicole Brown, who appeared on the short-lived 2017 ABC comedy The Mayor with Lea Michele, aired her own opinions about the actress on Twitter, responding to Samantha Ware's all-caps missive about Michele by tweeting, "I felt every one of those capital letters." She continued, "Every person on a set matters. Every person on a set deserves respect. And it is the responsibility of every series regular to make every person who visits their home feel welcome."

Brown also took care to point out that her on-set experiences with Community, the cult favorite NBC comedy, weren't as toxic, alluding to Ware's claims that Michele told her she would defecate in her wig. "What? Someone threatening to take a dump in my wig? Naw, that never happened on Community," Brown tweeted. That would never happen on Community. We were and are a family who love and support each other to this day. Our crew were amazing too."

Gerard Canonico shares Broadway horror story

Gerard Canonico, a Broadway actor who appeared as an understudy in the hit musical Spring Awakening alongside Michele, responded to her Instagram apology by sharing his negative experience working with her. After claiming that his first reply to her post "seems to have been deleted," Canonico wrote in his own Instagram comment that Michele was "nothing but a nightmare to me and fellow understudy cast members. You made us feel like we didn't belong there. I tried for years to be nice to you to no avail. Maybe actually apologize instead of placing the blame on how others 'perceive' you. You'll probably just delete this though."

Canonico otherwise remembered his experience with Spring Awakening fondly, telling Playbill in 2015, "I felt like Spring Awakening was college for me...I felt very fortunate to be surrounded by such an incredibly gifted group of people on a daily basis to learn from."

Dabier Snell wasn't allowed to sit at Lea Michele's table

Actor Dabier Snell only appeared briefly on Glee, joining the cast for one episode in 2014, but that was enough to leave him with a bad impression of Lea Michele. Snell echoed his co-stars' harsh words about Michele following Samantha Ware's Twitter dressing-down of Michele, with Snell recalling a nasty on-set interaction he had with the actress. "Girl you wouldn't let me sit at the table with the other cast members cause 'I didn't belong there,'" he wrote in an all-caps tweet, quote-tweeting Michele's own post mourning George Floyd. "F**k you Lea."

That wasn't all, however. "I try to bring good vibes and create content for [people] to laugh and enjoy," Snell added, before confirming that he was a guest star on the show, and co-star Darren Criss invited him to "sit with everyone" and feel welcome. "Seeing her message brought back bad memories of being less than on set of Glee. Ain't goin stand for her being fake like she care."

Elizabeth Aldrich says Michele was a nightmare child

Broadway actress Elizabeth Aldrich appeared as Lea Michele's understudy in Ragtime, both early on in their Broadway careers. Even as a child, Michele was a terror, Aldrich shared on Twitter. "She was absolutely awful to me and ensemble," she tweeted, accompanied by a photo of her and Michele. "She demeaned the crew and threatened to have people fired if she was in anyway displeased. I used to cry every night from the mean and manipulative things she would do. She was 12. She was terrifying."

In an additional post, Aldrich confirmed that she had left the Broadway world, but still shared her experience with Michele to support the accounts of Michele's other aggravated former co-stars. "My hopes in having shared a very abbreviated version of my story are to validate those who risk their careers to speak against Lea's abuse, and to call for accountability from those who enabled her behavior for over 20 years." Aldrich referenced Michele's pregnancy announcement, saying that she hoped that becoming a mother could perhaps change Michele for good. "Motherhood is a transformative experience," she wrote. "I hope Lea embraces her new role as a mother and uses this time to reflect and evolve."