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"When I tried to speak up for myself, she told me to shut my mouth," Samantha Ware alleged

By Robyn Merrett and Melody Chiu
June 11, 2020 10:43 PM
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Samantha Marie Ware, Lea Michele
Samantha Ware, Lea Michele
| Credit: Presley Ann/Getty Images; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Samantha Ware is alleging that Lea Michele threatened to have Glee creator Ryan Murphy fire her from the show when the actresses appeared together on the Fox series.

In an interview published by Variety on Thursday, Ware — who made headlines earlier this month after accusing Michele, 33, on Twitter of making her life on the Glee set a "living hell" — further elaborated on her experiences with the Scream Queens star, recalling an incident during which Michele allegedly publicly embarrassed her during filming.

"When you're shooting a scene, sometimes the camera is on you and sometimes it's not, but you still have to be in the scene. The camera wasn't on us, so it's not like we had to give a full throttle performance, but apparently, I was goofing around when the camera wasn't on me, and she took that as me being disrespectful to her," Ware told Variety.

Ware, 28, explained that's when Michele allegedly reprimanded her.

"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 alleged.

According to Ware, Michele said, "You need to come here right now."

She said, “I said ‘no,’ and that’s when she decided to threaten my job, and said she would call Ryan Murphy in to come and fire me.”

Ware does not believe Murphy was made aware of the incident, but that Michele was just using his name to intimidate her. (In a previous statement exclusively shared with PEOPLE earlier this month, Michele apologized for her past behavior, saying in part, "I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people.")

Ware joined Glee for season 6, and according to Variety, Murphy was not running the series and had no involvement in the show at that time.

A rep for Murphy did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Still, the alleged incident left Ware feeling scared.

"It's scary. For the full week, I was thinking I'm probably going to get an email and I might not be able to do the last three episodes, or I might not be able to sing another song," Ware told Variety.

Following the alleged incident, Ware told the publication that she spoke with Michele at the time, who allegedly told her to "shut my mouth."

"When I tried to speak up for myself, she told me to shut my mouth. She said I don't deserve to have that job," Ware claimed. "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."

But a source close to the show maintains that "everyone on the set knew they didn't get along."

Samantha Marie Ware, Lea Michele
Lea Michele and Samantha Ware on Glee
| Credit: Fox

"In this particular instance, Samantha was goofing off during an emotional scene for Lea, and it was disrupting the flow for her. Lea did get upset about that, but it was because she felt Samantha didn't respect the show," the insider tells PEOPLE.

Ware also further addressed her June 1 tweet, in which she said that Michele allegedly "told everyone" that she would "s--- in [Ware's] wig."

"She had an issue because I had laughed [when watching a scene] and that's when the 'I'm going to s--- in your wig' comment happened," Ware told Variety. "Some chuckled and some gasped. It was mortifying. The whole point was her to embarrass me. People heard her, but no one was going to stand up to her."

Ware explained that she felt the comment was racially charged because "Black women historically are known for their wigs."

When Ware spoke up about the incident, she claims no one did anything about it.

"Everyone minded their business or said, 'I'm sorry, I wish I had the power to stop this, but this is just the way it is, and this is just how it's been' — which means I wasn't the first person to have been in that situation," Ware told Variety.

According to the insider, Michele "wasn't targeting Samantha because of her race."

"While Lea isn't easy to work with because she's so Type-A, she wasn't targeting Samantha because of her race. Oftentimes because of Lea's personality, she conflicted with a lot of cast members," the source tells PEOPLE.

The source also says that Michele reached out to Ware after Ware replied to her tweet, but never heard back.

Ware explained to Variety that things between herself and Michele were tense from day one. "I knew from day one when I attempted to introduce myself. There was nothing gradual about it. As soon as she decided that she didn't like me, it was very evident," Ware claims.

Michele apologized for her past behavior, saying in her June 3 statement that while she does not remember making the specific remarks that Ware says she made, that is "not really the point."

RELATED: Amber Riley Addresses Lea Michele Controversy: ‘I’m Not Going to Say That She’s Racist’

"What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people," Michele said, explaining the importance of listening and learning from those who she might have hurt in the past.

"One of the most important lessons of the last few weeks is that we need to take the time to listen and learn about other people's perspectives and any role we have played or anything we can do to help address the injustices that they face," Michele said.

"When I tweeted the other day, it was meant to be a show of support for our friends and neighbors and communities of color during this really difficult time," she said, referring to her May 29 tweet in support of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement (which Ware publicly replied to with her initial allegations).

She continued: "but the responses I received to what I posted have made me also focus specifically on how my own behavior towards fellow cast members was perceived by them."

"While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that’s not really the point," Michele's statement continued. "What matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people."

"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 for any pain which I have caused. We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings."

"I am a couple of months from becoming a mother and I know I need to keep working to better myself and take responsibility for my actions, so that I can be a real role model for my child and so I can pass along my lessons and mistakes, so that they can learn from me," she concluded. "I listened to these criticisms and I am learning and while I am very sorry, I will be better in the future from this experience."

heather morris, lea michele
Heather Morris and Lea Michele in Glee
| Credit: Fox

Several other Glee stars have also addressed the controversy.

Amber Riley, 34, spoke with journalist Danielle Young on Instagram Live, discussing racism and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, making a brief comment on Ware calling out Michele.

Riley said during the chat that she doesn’t think Michele is racist, but she hopes the actress "has grown."

"I’m not going to say that Lea Michele is racist. That’s not what I’m saying," said Riley, who played Mercedes Jones on the musical series. "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."

And while Riley — who recently covered Beyoncé's hit "Freedom" at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest outside of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's house — wishes Michele well, she added that Glee was "not the most comfortable environment" to work on and was "proud" that Ware spoke out.

Another costar, Heather Morris, 33, also weighed in on the controversy, saying Michele was "unpleasant to work with" on the musical comedy, which aired from 2009 to 2015. But like Riley, Morris, added that she doesn't feel Michele is a racist.

Iqbal Theba, who starred as Principal Figgins on the Fox musical drama, came to Michele's defense.

"Lot of people r assuming that @LeaMichele mistreated me. Let me state it clearly that I was never mistreated by her," Theba, who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, began in his first tweet. "And if some of the cast were treated badly then she has apologized for it which is wonderful."

He continued by calling for people to not assume that Michele is "racist," but to instead practice compassion.

"But being called a racist is too heavy & unfair a burden 4 most ... of us, specially in these troubled times," wrote Theba, 56.