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THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONALLY STAYING HUMBLE NO MATTER WHAT YOUR STATUS IS

I want to talk a little bit about Lea Michele. For those of you that don’t know, she’s an actress, singer, and author. She starred as Rachel Berry on the hit show, ‘Glee’, between 2009 and 2015 alongside her late boyfriend, Cory Monteith, the late Naya Rivera, Amber Riley, Diana Agron, Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, and more. Though Michele is best known for her role on ‘Glee’, she actually got her start on Broadway at the age of 8.

I used to really admire Lea Michele for her strength and her bravery, especially after the death of her boyfriend. I especially started following her journey when she began opening up about her battle with PCOS. When I was first diagnosed with the same hormonal disorder, I immediately listened to Katherine’s Schwarzenegger’s podcast episode where she was a guest and she talked about her pregnancy journey. Michele now has a son, Ever Leo, born in August 2020, with her husband, Reich, whom she married in 2019.

All this admiration of mine towards Lea Michele faded once I remembered the scandal surrounding her and the way she treated those she worked closely with, including her co-stars, extras, and understudies on various TV and Broadway shows, as well as her fans. The whole fiasco started when Michele tweeted about the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement, where she wrote, ‘George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.’

Samantha Ware, who played Jane Hayward on season 6 of ‘Glee’, quickly took notice of Michele’s tweet and wrote in response, ‘LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD ‘S–T IN MY WIG!’ AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD…’

Those who previously worked with Lea Michele, and even those that just encountered her for a moment, then started opening up about their experiences with her. About 95% of those that opened up had everything negative to say about her. For the public, it was all sudden news. But, in fact, it wasn’t news at all. Naya Rivera, who played Santana Lopez on ‘Glee’, open up about their relationship previously in her 2016 memoir, ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.’

‘One of the Glee writers once said that Lea and I were like two sides of the same battery and that about sums us up. We are both strong willed and competitive—not just with each other but with everyone—and that’s not a good mixture. As the show progressed, though, that friendship started to break down, especially as Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time. I think Rachel—erm, I mean Lea—didn’t like sharing the spotlight.’

‘On top of that, she had a hard time separating work from our outside friendship, whereas it was a lot easier for me,” she adds. “I’m not offended when people offer feedback or criticism, and if things get heated on set, I try to keep perspective. We’re all stressed, yes, but we’re all working toward the same goal, so laugh it off and keep it movin’. Lea was a lot more sensitive, though, and it seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong.’

‘If I’d complained about anyone or anything, she’d assumed I was bitching about her. Soon, she started to ignore me, and eventually it got to the point where she didn’t say a word to me for all of Season 6. Lea and I definitely weren’t the best of friends, and I doubt we’ll ever sit on her couch and eat kale together again, but the rumors of our ‘feud’ were blown out of proportion.’

Just like Michele, Rivera started her acting career as a child. Just like Michele, Rivera got her big break when she landed her breakthrough role on ‘Glee’. But unlike Michele, Rivera was humble and respectful with everyone she worked with, no matter who it was and no matter what her status was. So it got me thinking…

Since then, Michele has issued an apology that came straight from her typing it up in her phone notes rather than it coming from her publicist. You could totally tell that she typed it up herself as the wording of her apology was pretty absurd. She wrote the word ‘perceive’ a lot, which is absurd in itself. What Michele experienced in the aftermath is white privilege. Naya Rivera was half Black and half Hispanic. If the roles were reversed and Naya Rivera was accused of such behavior, she wouldn’t have gotten away with it so easily. Her career would’ve been over and done with no matter how many times she apologized. But Lea Michele….

When all the allegations against Leah Michele were made, many people said she was racist. The fact of the matter is, that’s not the case at all. In fact, she’s not even much of a hateful person in her personal life as her best friend and ‘Spring Awakening’ and ‘Glee’ co-star, Jonathan Groff is gay. What I’d say is that Michele has had diva-like tendencies (I’m trying to be as polite as I possibly can be) and thinks she’s above everyone else because she’s been working practically her whole life.

The scandal didn’t affect Lea Michele much. Almost two years later, it’s almost as if it never even happened. She lost a couple of social media branding deals, but other than that, her career wasn’t impacted. Since then, Michele has released an album and reunited with the ‘Spring Awakening’ cast for a one night only performance to celebrate the show’s 15 year anniversary. A full documentary surrounding the reunion is now available to stream on HBO Max.

I don’t believe in cancel culture. I truly believe everyone deserves a second chances. I hope Lea Michele truly reflected and actually learned through the whole ordeal. And hopefully, she will better herself in her working career by realizing that it’s always important to be a good person and stay humble no matter how long you’ve worked in the industry.

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