Samantha first called Lea out after the actress shared a Black Lives Matter tweet.
“George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end #BlackLivesMatter," Lea wrote on Twitter, to which Samantha responded in all caps, "Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget.”
“I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would ‘s— in my wig!’ amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood.”
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 “SHIT IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD... https://t.co/RkcaMBmtDA— SAMEYAAAAAA (@Sammie_Ware) June 2, 2020
Following this, a number of Lea's former co-workers have shared their own horror stories of bullying.
Now, in an interview with Variety, the 28-year-old has revealed she knew from day one on-set Lea didn't like her.
“I knew from day one when I attempted to introduce myself. There was nothing gradual about it. As soon as she decided that she didn’t like me, it was very evident."
She continued, “It was after I did my first performance, that’s when it started – the silent treatment, the stare-downs, the looks, the comments under her breath, the weird passive aggressiveness. It all built up.”
Samantha revealed that at one point Lea threatened her job in front of a large crowed of people on-set.
“Lea’s actions were nothing new, so I guess since it was such a common thing, my case didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” she said.
“I remember the first day I actually spoke up and unfortunately no one did anything. They just shrugged it off, like ‘That’s her.’ No one was stopping these things, which is an issue because the environment was helping perpetuate this abuse.”
During one large scene in an auditorium, Lea called her out, shocking Samantha.
“When you’re shooting a scene, sometimes the camera is on you and sometimes it’s not, but you still have to be in the scene. The camera wasn’t on us, so it’s not like we had to give a full throttle performance, but apparently, I was goofing around when the camera wasn’t on me, and she took that as me being disrespectful to her.”
No one else, not even the director, voiced any concerns about Samantha's on-set behaviour, but Lea was livid, "She waited until the scene was over and she stopped in the middle of the stage and did a ‘come here’ gesture, like how a mother does to their child."
According to Samantha, Lea demanded she "come here right now", when Samantha politely declined, Lea began threatening her job, saying she'd call Ryan Murphy to fire her.
Understandably, this terrified Samantha, "It’s scary. For the full week, I was thinking I’m probably going to get an email and I might not be able to do the last three episodes, or I might not be able to sing another song."
When Samantha later had a chat with Lea, who reminded her of her clout on-set.
“When I tried to speak up for myself, she told me to shut my mouth. She said I don’t deserve to have that job,” Samantha said.
“She talked about how she has reign. And here’s the thing: I completely understood that, and I was ready to be like, ‘This is your show. I’m not here to be disrespectful.’ But at that point, we were already past the respect and she was just abusing her power.”
Variety reports that Lea attempted to get in touch with Samantha after her first tweet, but Samantha declined to provide any personal contact information, instead telling her to go to her representatives. Lea then sent Samantha a personal apology to her reps.
Samantha revealed that even when she told her colleagues and peers what Lea was doing to her, they didn't feel like they could stand up for her.
"Everyone minded their business or said, ‘I’m sorry, I wish I had the power to stop this, but this is just the way it is, and this is just how it’s been’ – which means I wasn’t the first person to have been in that situation," she said.
Glee star Heather Morris admitted on Twitter that she and other cast members had seen Lea's bullying behaviour and did nothing to stop it, "It’s also on us because to allow it to go on for so long without speaking out is something else we’re learning along with the rest of society."
Samantha says she hopes her white colleagues will educate themselves to become true allies.
She has since begun a social media movement using the hashtag #unMUTEny, encouraging people of colour who felt silenced in the workplace to share their stories.