Lea Michele

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Lea Michele
Lea Michele PCA 2012.jpg
Michele at the 38th People's Choice Awards on January 11, 2012.
Background information
Birth name Lea Michele Sarfati
Born (1986-08-29) August 29, 1986 (age 27)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Origin Tenafly, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Broadway, vocal, pop rock, pop, dance-pop
Occupations Actress, singer, songwriter, dancer, writer
Years active 1995–present
Labels Columbia
Associated acts Sia Furler, Christina Perri, Felicia Barton, Jaden Michaels, Anne Preven
Website leamichelemusic.com

Lea Michele Sarfati (born August 29, 1986),[1] known professionally as Lea Michele, is an American actress and singer, best known for her performance as Rachel Berry on the Fox television series Glee. Michele's portrayal of Rachel has received much critical praise, earning her two Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy nomination for her performance. She has also received a Satellite Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and three consecutive People's Choice Awards.

Michele began working professionally as a child actress on Broadway in productions such as Les Misérables, Ragtime, and Fiddler on the Roof. In 2006, she originated the lead role of Wendla in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination. On film, Michele starred in the 2011 romantic comedy movie New Year's Eve, and has voiced the character of Dorothy Gale in the upcoming animated movie Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.

Michele signed to Columbia Records as a solo recording artist in 2012. Her first single, "Cannonball", was released on December 10, 2013. Her debut album, Louder, was released on March 4, 2014.[2] The album debuted number 4 on the US Billboard 200. Her first book, Brunette Ambition, is set for release on May 13, 2014, and will be published by Harmony Books.

Early life[edit]

Michele was born in The Bronx, New York City. She is the only child of Edith, a nurse, and Marc Sarfati, a delicatessen owner.[1][3] Her mother is Italian American and Roman Catholic, while her father is a Sephardic Jew.[4][5] Michele was raised Catholic, and has stated that her father "gladly" attends church with her and her mother.[6][7] She grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey. She attended Rockland Country Day School[8] for elementary school in New York and then Tenafly High School.[6][9] Michele was home schooled one year while working in Toronto, Ontario on Ragtime. She attended Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills, a center for performing arts training.[10] She was then later accepted to the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, but opted instead to continue working professionally on the stage.[11][12]

Michele adopted her stage name at an early age; when she went on her first audition, she gave her name as "Lea Michele," and has used it ever since. She has stated that she changed it because she was teased about the pronunciation of her last name.[13]

Career[edit]

Stage roles[edit]

Michele has the vocal range of a soprano.[14] She made her Broadway debut in 1995, at the age of 8, as a replacement in the role of Young Cosette in Les Misérables.[15] This was followed by the role of Tateh's daughter, the Little Girl, in the 1998 original Broadway cast of Ragtime.[16] In 2004 (during her senior year of high school), Michele played Shprintze in the Broadway revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof.[17] She also sang on the 2004 Broadway revival cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof.[18]

She played the role of Wendla Bergmann in Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical version of Spring Awakening, starring in early workshops and Off-Broadway and finally originating the role in the Broadway production in 2006 at the age of 20.[19] Around the same time that the show was set to go to Broadway, she was offered the role of Éponine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables.[20] She elected to remain with Spring Awakening, which debuted on Broadway in December 2006. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in Spring Awakening in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Musical.[21]

On May 18, 2008, Michele left Spring Awakening with her co-star Jonathan Groff, where they were both replaced the next day by Michele's understudy Alexandra Socha and newcomer Kyle Riabko. She performed in a reading of Sheik and Sater's new musical, Nero, in July 2008 at Vassar College.[22] She portrayed Éponine in the Hollywood Bowl's Les Misérables concert in August 2008.[23]

Glee[edit]

Michele performing on the Glee Live! tour, June 23, 2011.

Michele stars in the Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee as Rachel Berry, the show's female lead and star singer. In casting Glee, series creator Ryan Murphy sought out actors who could identify with the rush of starring in theatrical roles. Instead of using traditional network casting calls, he spent three months on Broadway, where he found Michele.[24] The role of Rachel was written specifically for Michele.[25] The pilot episode was filmed in late 2008. In an interview with The Washington Post, Michele commented on her casting, saying: "I was kind of just thrown into this—this is one of the first television jobs I've ever had. Of course being able to sing helps bring a sense of comfort. The character I'm playing is really outgoing—she performs in her everyday life as though she's performing in front of a huge audience."[26] She took the role because of Rachel's characterization, and explained: "Not only is she a singer, but she has so much heart—I think it's what we need on TV. A show that is filled with heart and love that is funny. It sends an amazing message to kids about the arts and being who you are."[27] Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan wrote that Michele "not only has an amazing voice but manages to make her character, spoiled diva Rachel Berry, more than a humorless stereotype."[28] Denise Martin of The Los Angeles Times commented in her review of the episode "The Rhodes Not Taken": "If there's any justice in the world, Lea Michele will win a Golden Globe and an Emmy for playing Rachel."[29]

Michele has won a number of awards for her portrayal of Rachel. At the 2009 Satellite Awards, she won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series.[30] In 2010, Michele won the NewNowNext Awards for Brink of Fame: Actor.[31] In 2009, she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the category Choice TV Breakout Star.[32] That same year, Michele was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy,[33] and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.[34] She received another Teen Choice Award nomination in 2010 for Choice TV Actress: Comedy.[32] Michele was included in Time Magazine's 2010 list of the 100 Most Influential People In the World.[35] She won the 2012 People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Comedy Actress.[36] Several songs performed by Michele as Rachel have been released as singles, available for digital download.[37][38] In December 2010, Michele received Billboard's First-Ever Triple Threat Award.[39] Her cover of The All-American Rejects' "Gives You Hell" reached the top 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[40] Michele is featured as lead singer in 14 of the top 20 selling Glee Cast songs as of 2010.[41] Michele was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 2011. The first for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals ("Don't Stop Believin'"), the second for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media (Glee: The Music, Volume 1).[42] Michele said of the first Grammy nomination: "I like that it's for "Don't Stop Believin'", which is for the whole cast, so that we all get to go. That's just awesome."[42] She was nominated again for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards.[43]

Michele with Cory Monteith at San Diego Comic-Con International, July 25, 2009.

Other ventures[edit]

In 2010, Michele joined the cast of the animated film Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return,[44] voicing the lead role of Dorothy Gale.[45] She filmed a role in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy New Year's Eve, which was released in 2011.[46] Before Super Bowl XLV, on February 6, 2011, she performed "America the Beautiful" with the Air Force Tops In Blue.[47] On September 18, 2012, it was announced that Michele would be working on her first solo album. She started recording for the album soon after on October 1, 2012. She has stated that it is a 'pretty slow process' but she wants the album to be more 'pop/rock driven' instead of Broadway influenced.[48] Michele was a presenter at the 2013 Golden Globes, co-presenting the award for Best Actress in a TV Series with Nathan Fillion.[49] In May 2013, it was announced that Michele had signed a deal with Harmony Books, Random House Inc. to pen a part memoir, part how-to book entitled Brunette Ambition. The book is set for release on May 13, 2014.[50] On November 27, 2013, Michele announced via her Twitter page that the first single from her debut album Louder will be "Cannonball" out on December 10, 2013.[51] She performed "Cannonball" live for the first time on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, on December 12, 2013.[52] On December 19, 2013, Michele's first solo song "Cannonball" debuted at number 75 on the Billboard chart, making her the first main Glee cast member to chart as a lead soloist on the Hot 100.[53] Michele performed "Cannonball" on the season 3 live finale of The X Factor USA on December 19, 2013.[54] On December 27, 2013, a second track called "Battlefield" premiered as a promotional single on Just Jared's website. The song was released onto the iTunes Store as an instant download the next day.[55] Louder debuted on the Billboard 200 at the number 4 spot, with the album selling over 62,000 units in its first week.[56]

Philanthropy[edit]

Michele is active in charities for gay rights and animal rights. In 2008, Michele was a part of the PETA ad campaign "Buck Cruelty! Say No to Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides."[57] In April 2010, Michele appeared in a PSA for PETA speaking out against fur clothing.[58] In September 2010, Michele was honored by PETA for her work for animals.[59]

In the support of gay rights, Michele performed at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner in November 2009.[60][61] In the same month, Michele and Jonathan Groff performed for True Colors Cabaret, a fundraiser in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.[62] In 2008, Michele performed at a benefit concert, "Alive in the World,"[63] to aid the Twin Towers Orphan Fund. Michele has also been active with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For Broadway Cares, Michele has participated in Broadway Barks, Broadway Bares, The Easter Bonnet Competition and The Flea Market and Grand Auction.[64]

In October 2010, Michele performed at a benefit concert for The Painted Turtle. The concert celebrated the 35th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with Michele playing the lead role of Janet Weiss for the benefit.[65] In February 2011, she performed for The Grammys' MusiCares Benefit in Los Angeles, California.[66] In April 2012, Michele performed for The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation (JCCF)'s 17th annual signature fundraiser, Taste for a Cure, at UCLA with her Glee co-star, Darren Criss.[67] In October 2012, Michele and Criss also performed together at the Big Brother & Big Sisters Of Greater Los Angeles 2012 Stars Gala.[68]

In July 2012, Michele hosted the launch of Valspar Hands for Habitat charity auction and donated a signed hand print to be auctioned off along with many other celebrity hand-prints. Money raised from the auction benefits Habitat for Humanity’s disaster response programs, which provide immediate and long-term response and solutions to natural disasters such as the recent tornados in the Midwest and Southeast which damaged and destroyed the homes of thousands.[69] In June 2013, Michele co-hosted the launch of Feed America for Target stores. Proceeds from the lifestyle collection will benefit Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic-hunger relief charity.[70] In August 2013, Michele once again donated a hand print to Valspar Hands for Habitat charity auction.[71] Michele was the host of Lea Michele’s Night of Shopping and Cocktails at Switch Boutique on December 14, 2013 in Los Angeles. The event was presented by SodaStream and benefitted Chrysalis, a non-profit organization that helps homeless people find work.[72]

Personal life[edit]

Michele currently lives in her home in Hollywood with her cat Sheila and her dog Pearl.

Relationships[edit]

Michele dated Broadway actor Theo Stockman for nearly two years before breaking up in September 2011.[73]

Michele began working alongside Canadian actor Cory Monteith in 2008, when they were cast as love interests on Glee.[74] They became an official couple in late 2011.[75][76][77] They remained a couple until his death on July 13, 2013.[78][79][80] Following his death, Michele co-wrote a song with Australian singer/songwriter Sia Furler about Monteith titled "If You Say So" which is featured on her debut album, Louder.[81]

Public image[edit]

Michele was featured on People Magazine's Best Dressed List of 2010 as "The Newbie"[82] and she was voted "2010 Most Stylish Star" by E! Online.[83] In June 2010, AfterEllen ranked Michele 16th on their annual Hot 100 list for 2010, voted for by lesbian and bisexual readers. In 2011, the British popular men's magazine FHM ranked her 47th on their annual 100 Sexiest Women list.[84] In May 2011, Michele ranked 28th on the Maxim 2011 Hot 100.[85] Michele placed at number 10 on Glamour Magazine's 50 Best Dressed Women of 2011.[86] She appeared on AfterEllen's Hot 100 list of 2011, placing at number 10.[87] The following year, she ranked number 11 on the AfterEllen Hot 100 for 2012.[88] Women's Health magazine placed Lea Michele as the 3rd Best 2012 Summer Bodies.[89] Candie's announced in 2012 that Michele will be the new spokesperson for their clothing/footwear brand.[90] Later that same year, it was announced that Michele had signed a deal to be the newest spokesperson for the L'Oreal Paris hair and make-up brand.[91] In April 2012, she placed at number 37 on Glamour Magazine's 50 Best Dressed Women of 2012 list.[92] Michele ranked 14th on the Maxim 2012 Hot 100,[93] and placed at number 39 the following year on the Maxim 2013 Hot 100.[94] She ranked number 42 on the AfterEllen Hot 100 list of 2013.[95] She placed at number 76 in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women list of 2013.[96] Glamour Magazine ranked Michele number 19 in their 50 Best Dressed Women of 2013 list.[97] Ranked 48th on askmen.com's list of 99 Most Desirable Women of 2014.[98]

Politics[edit]

Michele is a liberal Democrat and supported Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Race. Obama included Michele on his wish list of celebrity endorsers for his 2012 campaign.[99] Michele's main political interests are the legalization of gay marriage and animal rights issues, particularly the use of fur in the fashion industry and cruelty of horses in the horse-drawn carriage business.[100]

Stage[edit]

Broadway[edit]

Readings and workshops[edit]

Michele performing with the Tops In Blue at the Super Bowl XLV, February 6, 2011.

Concerts and events[edit]

Other projects[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night Christina Voice
2011 Glee: The 3D Concert Movie Rachel Berry/Herself Concert movie
2011 New Year's Eve Elise Film debut
2014 Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Dorothy Gale Lead role, Voice

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Third Watch Sammi "Spring Forward Fall Back" (Season 1, episode 19)
2008 Around the Block Herself Pilot
2009–present Glee Rachel Berry Lead role
2010 The Simpsons Sarah (voice) "Elementary School Musical" (Season 22, episode 1)
2011 The Cleveland Show Rachel Berry (voice) "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Roberta?" (Season 2, episode 11)
2012 The Glee Project Herself Guest Star (Season 2, episode 1 "Individuality")
2012 Inside the Actor's Studio Herself Guest Star (Season 18, episode 1)
2013 Top Chef Herself Guest Judge (Season 11, episode 5 "Lea Michele's Halloween Bash")

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
US
[128]
AUS
[129]
AUT
[130]
CAN
[131]
IRE
[132]
JPN
[133]
FRA
[134]
NZ
[135]
SPN
[136]
SWI
[137]
UK
[138]
2014 Louder 4 4 25 4 11 29 15 6 12 18 16

(first week sales)

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US
[140]
AUS
[141]
BEL (Vl)
[142]
BEL (Wa)
[143]
CAN
[144]
FRA
[134]
IRE
[145]
JPN
[146]
SPA
[136]
UK
[147]
2013 "Cannonball" 75 45 11[A] 7[B] 49 48 80 82 32 56 Louder
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Promotional singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US US Heat
[148]
CAN
[144]
FRA
[134]
IRE
[145]
SPA
[136]
2013 "Battlefield" 117 55 Louder
2014 "Louder" 111 18 64 46 47
"What Is Love?" 99 55 45
"You're Mine" 112 24 83 47
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other charted songs[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
CAN
[144]
FRA
[134]
SPA
[136]
2014 "On My Way" 81 45 45 Louder

Soundtracks[edit]

Year Soundtrack Album details
2004 Fiddler on the Roof (2004 Broadway Revival Cast)
  • Revival cast recording
  • Label: PS Classics
  • Released: June 8, 2004
2006 Spring Awakening: A New Musical
  • Original Broadway cast recording
  • Label: Decca Broadway
  • Released: December 12, 2006

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2007 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Actress in a Musical Spring Awakening Nominated
Broadway.com Audience Awards Favorite Leading Actress in a Broadway Musical Nominated
Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance Won
Favorite Onstage Pair (with Jonathan Groff) Won
Favorite Ensemble Cast (with Spring Awakening Cast) Won
2008 Grammy Awards Best Musical Show Album (Original Broadway Cast, including Lea Michele) Won
2009 New York Television Festival Awards Best Nonscripted Host or Star Around the Block Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Breakout Star Glee Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series Won
2010 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
TV Land Awards Future Classic (with Glee Cast) Won
Gay People's Choice Awards Favorite Breakout Actress Won
NewNowNext Awards Brink of Fame: Actor Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
Choice Music: Group (with Glee Cast) Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series Nominated
Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
PETA's 30th Anniversary Gala Humanitarian Awards Award – Honor Herself Won
Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People 2010 – Honor [149] Won
Billboard's Women in Music Triple Threat Award – Honor Won
Victoria's Secret Sexiest 2010 Sexiest Smile – Honor Won
2011 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Glee Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (Don't Stop Believin) Nominated
Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (Glee: The Music, Volume 1) Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music: Group (with Glee Cast) Nominated
Variety Power of Women Awards 2011 Lifetime Impact Honoree – Honor Won
US Glamour Women of the Year Awards The Diva Next Door – Honor Herself Won
UK Glamour Women of the Year Awards US TV Actress of the Year Won
DoSomething.org's List of Top 20 Celebs Gone Good of 2011 Advocate for Animal Rights – Honor Won
2012 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a Comedy – TV Glee Won
Grammy Awards Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media (Glee: The Music, Volume 4) Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
UK Glamour Women of the Year Awards US TV Actress of the Year Won
Teen Choice Awards Best Actress in a Comedy - TV Won
Movie Scene Stealer New Year's Eve Nominated
Do Something Awards Best Actress Glee Won
2013 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a Comedy – TV Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Best Actress in a Comedy – TV Won
Choice Style Icon Herself Nominated
Golden Remote Awards Favorite Funny Girl Glee Won
2014 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a Comedy – TV Nominated
Favorite TV Gal Pals (with Naya Rivera) Won
Dorian Awards TV Musical Performance of 2013 (To Make You Feel My Love) Nominated

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • A ^ "Cannonball" did not chart on the Flanders (Belgium) Ultratop singles chart, but charted at number 19 on the Ultratip chart, the top 100 songs which have not made the Ultratop 50.[150]
  • B ^ "Cannonball" did not chart on the Wallonia (Belgium) Ultratop singles chart, but charted at number 11 on the Ultratip chart, the top 50 songs which have not made the Ultratop 40.[150]

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External links[edit]