Was there a “race war” on the set of Fox’s hit show, Glee? Well, that depends on who you ask, and who’s better to say than its sole main Black cast member, Amber Riley. Riley, who starred on the painfully non-diverse musical comedy series was recently interviewed by web sensation Ziwe where she was asked this question and more.
If you’re late to the Ziwe bandwagon, awkward and uncomfortable interview questions are the talk show host’s signature style. So it came as no surprise when she asked Riley about her time spent on the program in such a way that would paint her co-stars including actress Lea Michelle, in an um, racist light.
“Now speaking of getting down in the muck, you said that one of your famous co-workers wasn’t racist. Did you mean that she was?” Ziwe asks Riley, causing her to burst into laughter.
“Next question?” Riley attempts to side step. “I don’t even know how to answer that. Umm … I don’t know which co-worker you’re talking about — I’ve had so many.”
Ziwe doesn’t even crack a smile. Instead, she rolls a clip of Riley being interviewed in 2021 regarding the headlines that Lea Michelle bullied fellow Glee actress Samantha Ware during filming. “I am not going to say that Lea Michele is racist,” Riley is heard saying in the clip, although Ziwe’s producers hilariously bleep out Michelle’s name in the replay.
“Would you say that your famous co-worker doesn’t see race and is, in fact, rude to all of her co-workers?” Ziwe doubles down.
“I think that she would probably say that she doesn’t see race, but as we discussed earlier, everyone does,” she responds in a more serious tone. She also denies that the song “Colorblind” featured in a 2014 episode of Glee was inspired by Michelle. An insider joke, as the song was clearly performed before the rumors began, and wasn’t even written by Riley herself.
In a more sincere moment, the newly engaged vocalist spoke about the very real micro and macro aggressions she did in fact experience while working on the show, and in Hollywood in general.
“‘Oh your hair … so interesting! Oh wow, can I touch it?’ Like, a lot of that,” she said in reference to the uncomfortable moments she faced. You can watch Ziwe’s full interview with Amber Riley here.