Amber Riley is laser-focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, and would like her fans to be, too. In the midst of a nationwide movement against police brutality and injustice in Black communities following the police killing of George Floyd by a police officer on May 25, Riley's former Glee costar Lea Michele came under fire for claims of bullying behavior in the past. Amber Riley's response to Lea Michele's apology refocuses everyone's attention back to what is most important right now.
Michele spoke out about the killing of Floyd in an Instagram supporting Black Lives Matter on May 29, but her message was quickly met with criticism from Glee's Samantha Ware. Ware accused Michele of making her time on set a "living hell," and claimed Michele committed "other traumatic microaggressions." Ware recieved support from other former Glee cast members, like Alex Newell. Michele later issued an apology addressing how she was "perceived" by Ware and other actors who detailed similar experiences.
For Riley, who seemingly acknowledged Ware's claims were true with a simple "sips tea" GIF, still believes this is all clouding the important cause at hand.
“I don’t give a sh*t about this Lea Michele thing," Riley told comedian Danielle Young during an Instagram Live conversation. "I really don’t give a f*ck. People are out here dying, being murdered by police. Trans women are being murdered at the hands of men who are upset about being trans attracted.”
Riley, who said she is "not going to say" Michele is racist, explained that Michele reached out to her following the claims.
“I wish Lea Michele well, I hope that she has an amazing pregnancy," Riley continued. "I hope that she is grown and that she understands. The apology she put out, I didn’t read it because I told y’all, I don’t give a sh*t about it. She reached out to me, I responded to her. That’s where it ends for me. I ain’t talked to that girl in two years. I have no hatred or ill-will on that end. … This is the first and last time I’m gonna say something.’
Still, Riley applauds Ware for speaking her truth. "I'm very proud of her for standing up for herself," Riley said. "I am proud of her not being fearful for speaking her truth.”
Riley has since received some DMs from others in the entertainment industry who have shared their stories of mistreatment on set.
"There were a lot of black actors and actresses that were in my inbox telling me their stories and were letting me know that they have dealt with the same things, being on set and terrorized by the white girls that are the leads of their show,” she said. “We all know that a person of color and a black person is always the sidekick, it’s always number 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 on the call sheet. Very rarely are they number one if it’s not an all-black cast.”
The ripple effects of racial inequality clearly spans far beyond the criminal justice system, and it's high time for some much-needed change.