The Dancing With the Stars season 17 champ weathered Ziwe’s trademark style of awkward questioning with grace during the sit-down, but that didn’t stop the host from trying to get to the bottom of her take on working with Michele — starting with asking Riley if there was a “race war” on Glee.
“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 asked, leading Riley to burst into uncomfortable laughter before dodging the question by responding “Next question? 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.”
Undeterred, Ziwe conveniently had a clip of Riley’s pandemic-era interview regarding the headline-making allegations that Michele bullied cast member Samantha Ware on the set of the FOX musical series. (“I am not going to say that Lea Michele is racist,” she insisted in the clip, though the Funny Girl star’s first name was bleeped out 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?” the host asked as a follow-up, and this time Riley gave more of a straightforward answer.
“I think that she would probably say that she doesn’t see race, but as we discussed earlier, everyone does,” she responded before laughingly denying that her 2014 single “Colorblind” was about Michele.
Billboard has reached out to Michele for comment.
Later in the interview, Riley also got real about some of the macro- and micro-aggressions she’s dealt with in Hollywood, revealing that she’s been on the receiving end of many an inappropriate comment from other actors in the hair and makeup trailer. “‘Oh your hair … so interesting! Oh wow, can I touch it?’ Like, a lot of that,” she said.
Watch Riley’s interview with Ziwe above.