Lea Michele Reflects on Glee Co-Star Backlash and What She Learned from Scandal

Two years after she was embroiled in controversy over her alleged behavior on the set of “Glee,” Lea Michele is opening up about what she’s learned — and how she’s been able to move forward.

In a Q&A with Jeremy O. Harris for Interview Magazine, the actress shared how she’s “navigated” the past two years, revealing that she reached out to people, with whom she’s had some “eye-opening” and “healing” conversations.

At one point in the interview, Harris brought up the 2020 scandal surrounding Michele and several of her former “Glee” co-stars, but didn’t go into specifics.

“How have you navigated that?” Harris asked Michele, who is currently starring as Fanny Brice in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” “Do you see being in this moment — when you’re looked at as one of the saviors of Broadway — as a chance to rectify some of those things?”

“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,” Michele, 36, replied. “But the most important thing was for everybody to just take a step back.”

“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,” she added.

The Emmy nominee said that when she first joined “Funny Girl” — she took over the lead role after Beanie Feldstein’s exit last summer — she decided that she had to become both the leader on-stage as well as off.

“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.’ Because that was always a struggle for me,” Michele told Harris. “So to have this opportunity now at 36 years old as a wife and a mother — to step into this job that comes with so much pressure and a huge amount of responsibility — was a very, very big achievement for me.”

Michele said that ultimately, “what matters the most is how you make people feel,” noting that “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,” she continued. “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. But you also can’t ignore those experiences or deny them. They are a part of the patchwork of my life.”

She concluded, “When I got the call that I was going to play Fanny Brice, I said, ‘Okay, this could be really big for my career, but it’s also helpful to have this opportunity to introduce people to who I am now.'”

Back in June 2020, “Glee” actress Samatha Ware accused Michele of making her entire experience as part of the show’s cast “a living hell,” saying she faced “traumatic microagressions” from the actress. At the time, more of their co-stars weighed in, with Heather Morris agreeing Michele was “unpleasant” to work with.

In addition to Morris, Amber Riley and Alex Newell quietly expressed their support by liking a series of memes that encouraged Ware to speak her truth.

Michele apologized at the time via Instagram, saying she “clearly acted in ways which hurt other people” and said she would step away and take time to “reflect” on her “shortcomings.”

When asked about those allegations, Michele shared some of what that reflection led to. “I really understand the importance and value now of being a leader,” she said in an interview with The New York Times in September. “It means not only going and doing a good job when the camera’s rolling, but also when it’s not. And that wasn’t always the most important thing for me.”

She wouldn’t discuss any specific allegations, saying that she didn’t feel “the need to handle things” through the media. But she did say that how she was on the set was a result of her particular work ethic.

“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,” Michele stated.

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