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As the lead of Glee, Lea Michele’s net worth shouldn’t surprise you. But after recent reports about the actress’ harassment of her costars, many of whom are Black, Michele’s net worth and Glee salary highlight the privilege she has as a white actor in Hollywood and how she’s been able to mistreat others in the industry for so long.
In June 2020, Michele’s Glee costar Samantha Marie Ware claimed that the actress made racially insensitive remarks on the set of the musical-comedy’s sixth season. (Ware played Jane Hayward in Glee‘s final season.)
“LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET,” Ware tweeted in response to a post Michele wrote about Black Lives Matter. “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…”
Since Ware’s tweet, several of Michele’s former costars and others who have worked with her on Glee and other projects have come forward with their own stories of mistreatment. Heather Morris, who played Brittany S. Pierce on Glee, tweeted that Michele was “unpleasant” to work with, while Michele’s other Glee costars, Alex Newell, Amber Riley and Melissa Benoist, have “liked” Ware’s tweet in support of her claims. Singer Plastic Martyr also slammed Lea for a transphobic remark the actress made about her at the Emmys a few years ago.
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This was my experience with #leamichele this isn't to start hate or cancel someone's career. It's to hopefully open people's eyes up to the horrible transphobia that exists but no one really talks about. The press doesn't cover transgender stories or trans people, our experiences often go ignored. Trans people aren't the enemy, and we aren't the punchline to your jokes. Since the rest of the world tries to silence us it's our job to use our voices and share our stories and experiences. Hopefully one day soon people will start to understand and respect trans people instead of villainizing or mocking us.
“Years ago we were at the Emmys and she happened to be there,” the singer wrote on Instagram in June. “I was still in the process of my transition and wasn’t 100% as ‘passable’ then. I was in the bathroom and started washing my hands and then said excuse me to her when trying to reach the soap and she goes ‘Excuse me?! EXCUSE ME???? Excuse you … you realize you’re in the WOMEN’S bathroom.’ I remember going from feeling so beautiful that day to walking out of that bathroom feeling so self-conscious and embarrassed.”
How much did Lea make on Glee?
The recent stories about Michele’s harassment toward trans women, Black women and others on and off the set of Glee highlight her privilege, both financial and social, as a white woman. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Michele made $80,000 per episode toward the end of her time on Glee, which means that she would’ve received around $1,600,000 per season, depending on how many episodes there were. Compared to her costars (such as Chris Colfer and Amber Riley, who made significantly less at a reported $45,000), Michele by far had the highest pay of most of the cast. The only cast members to receive the same rate were Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison.
How else did she make her money?
Along with Glee, Michele has starred in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens, as well as the one-season 2017 show, The Mayor. The Broadway veteran has also released three albums, Louder, Places and Christmas in the City. She’s also starred in films like New Year’s Eve. But aside from her on-screen work, most of Michele’s money comes from sponsorships and brand partnerships. The actress has partnered with Gap, Chevrolet, Nike, Candie’s, L’Oréal Paris, ZOLA, Lyft and Old Navy, among other brands. After Ware’s tweet, HelloFresh, which Michele was an ambassador for, ended its partnership with her, stating: “HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind. We are disheartened and disappointed to learn of the recent claims concerning Lea Michele. We take this very seriously, and have ended our partnership with Lea Michele, effective immediately.”
What’s her net worth?
So…what is Lea Michele’s net worth? Celebrity Net Worth reports that the actress is worth $12 million, which would account for the money she made on Glee, as well as partnerships with major brands.