In June 2020, Lea Michele came under fire when former “Glee” co-star Samantha Ware accused her of abusive behavior while they worked together on the hit show. “Remember when you made my first TV appearance a living hell?!?! Because I’ll never forget it,” Ware tweeted at the time (via Variety). “I think you told everyone that if you had the chance you’d stick in my wig!” she added. Shortly thereafter, the “What/If” actor explained exactly how she was abused on set. Ware claimed that Michelle’s “microaggressions” started their first day of shooting together. “The silent treatment, the stares, the looks, the quiet comments, the weird passive aggressiveness,” she told Variety.
The day after Ware’s viral tweet, Michele released a statement apologizing for her past actions. Though the former Les Misérables star said she couldn’t recall Ware’s specific instances of on-set abuse. “What matters is that I clearly acted in a way that hurt other people … I apologize for my behavior and for any pain I caused,” she said in a statement released to People.
Tension reignited between the former Glee cast members two years later after Michele was cast in the play Funny Girl. Once again, Ware took to Twitter. “Yes, Broadway clings to whiteness… Yes, silence is complicity. yes i am loud Yes I would do it again,” she tweeted in July (via Entertainment Weekly). Weeks later, Michele claimed she’d matured since her “Glee” days. Additionally, Michele clarified a bizarre, long-held conspiracy theory.
How the rumors started and continued
During an interview with an editorial for The New York Times, Lea Michele spoke about how she’s transformed over the years to become a better leader. The ‘Funny Girl’ star also addressed the startling rumor that she never learned to read or write. “I went to ‘Glee’ every day; I knew my lines every day,” she told the Times Sept. 1. “And then there’s a rumor on the internet that I can’t read or write? That’s sad. It really is,” said Michèle. The veteran performer added that if she had been “a man,” the rumors probably would have died down by now.
Claims that Michele couldn’t read or write came from a Facebook live stream of the One More Thing podcast (via Us Weekly) in 2017. Hosts Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman said Michele missed out on a proper education because she a was a child actor. “She never learned to read,” Ackerman said. “She missed that whole step. She was busy trying to get famous!”
The rumor enjoyed a resurgence online amid Michele’s casting in Funny Girl. One fan tweeted in June, “Even though Lea Michele can’t read my tweets, I will continue to be Stan.” A month later, in July, the Tushy brand jokingly referenced the “Scream Queens” star’s alleged inability to read . “Congratulations to Leah Michele!” they tweeted. “Just a reminder, our bidets are so easy to install you don’t even need to read the instructions.”