‘WeCrashed‘ on Apple TV+ follows the story of the shared workspace company WeWork and the tumultuous journey of its founders and employees. Under the chaotic leadership of co-founder Adam Neumann, the company rockets to enormous valuations but also spends unsustainable amounts of money, losing millions every day. Though it is entertaining to watch the antics of Neumann and his wife, Rebekah, the occasional perspective of a clear-eyed employee shows just how flawed the company is.
Lesley is one such employee and possibly the first real critic that WeWork hires. Having met Adam and his co-founding partner Miguel McKelvey at a coffee shop while they conduct hiring interviews, Lesley has seen the company’s humble beginnings. By episode 4, however, she seems to be quite appalled at how Adam is running things even as Miguel stands passively by. Considering ‘WeCrashed’ draws quite a bit from real life, we decided to see if Lesley might be based on an actual WeWork employee. Here’s what we found. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Was Lesley a Real WeWork Employee?
No, Lesley is not based on a particular WeWork employee. But she is likely inspired by a variety of real-life early employees who joined WeWork with big hopes but were eventually disappointed by the treatment meted out to them. On the show, Lesley, essayed by Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, is one of the first people that Adam and Miguel personally hire. Conducting interviews in a coffee shop, they go through a number of applicants even as Lesley, still a stranger to them, sits at a nearby table.
When Adam belittles the concept of working at a coffee shop, saying that working in his shared workspace would be a lot better, Lesley interjects, unknowingly giving Adam what seemingly becomes the core of his philosophy. She says that people come to work at coffee shops for the company and feeling of community, which outweighs the apparent discomforts. Adam is impressed and immediately offers Lesley a job. She eventually accepts, becoming one of the first managers of WeWork.
Fast forward a few years to 2016 (on the show), and Lesley begins to have her doubts about how Adam is running things. From the indiscriminate and unsustainable spending to laying off large sections of the workforce, the early WeWork employee sees some serious problems with the company. However, her loyalty stops her from leaving as she tries to persuade Adam and then Miguel to change course and fix the glaring lack of sustainability in the company.
Though Lesley is a fictional character who is seemingly scripted to push the narrative forward, there could still be some real people from whom the character takes particular inspiration. In a September 2021 interview of some of WeWork’s earliest employees, Marga Snyder, then Community Associate at the New York City offices, revealed that she had worked with the shared workspace company for an astounding ten and a half years. Starting out as an assistant building manager, Snyder most notably revealed that she had been directly hired by Neumann. Much like Lesley, Snyder also held a variety of roles within the company, including that of events director.
Ultimately, Lesley is a fictional character that could have been drawn from a variety of early employees at WeWork. The show is inspired by the Wondery podcast ‘WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork,’ which features interviews with actual (former) employees. Thus, the television adaptation likely picks up real-life accounts and dramatizes them through fictional characters. If this is the case, then it appears that Lesley’s character, though not real, attempts to make the show’s narrative seem simultaneously genuine and dramatic.