Lea Michele (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Lea Michele Sarfati (born August 29, 1986), 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 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.
Michele was born in the Bronx, New York City. She is the only child of Edith, a nurse, and Marc Sarfati, a delicatessen owner. Her mother is Italian American and Roman Catholic, while her father is a Spanish Sephardic Jew. Michele was raised Catholic, and has stated that her father "gladly" attends church with her and her mother. She grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey. She attended Rockland Country Day School for elementary school in New York and then Tenafly High School. 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. 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.
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.
She made her Broadway debut in 1995, as a replacement in the role of Young Cosette in Les Misérables. This was followed by the role of Tateh's daughter, the Little Girl, in the 1998 original Broadway cast of Ragtime. In 2004 (during her Senior Year of High School), Michele played Shprintze in the Broadway revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. She also sang on the 2004 Broadway revival cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof.
She played the role of Wendla 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. Around the same time that the show was set to go to Broadway, she was offered the role of Eponine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. 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.
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. She portrayed Eponine in the Hollywood Bowl's Les Misérables concert in August 2008.
Film, television, debut album, and other work
Michele stars in the Fox television series Glee, where she plays the now-graduated star singer of a high school glee club, Rachel Berry. She has won a Screen Actors Guild Award for an outstanding ensemble performance and the 2009 Satellite Award for best actress. Michele received the People's Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy in 2012 and again in 2013. She also received nominations for an Emmy Award, two nominations for a Golden Globe Award, and Teen Choice Award for her performance in the role. In December 2010 Lea Michele received Billboard's First-Ever Triple Threat Award. Several of her solo covers have reached the top 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100, including "Gives You Hell" by The All-American Rejects, "The Only Exception" by Paramore, "Firework" by Katy Perry, "Without You" by David Guetta feat. Usher, and the original song "Get It Right". Michele is the featured lead singer in 14 of the top 25 selling Glee songs as of Feb. 2012. Also as of Feb. 2012, over 70 songs featuring Michele as a lead have reached the Billboard charts, more than any other cast member.
Michele was included in TIME magazine's 2010 list of the 100 Most Influential People In the World. FHM named her No.7 on 2010 Sexiest Women List. Michele was named to People Magazine's Best Dressed List of 2010 as "The Newbie" and she was voted "2010 Most Stylish Star" by E! Online. She was ranked 28th on the Maxim 2011 Hot 100. She was number 10 on the AfterEllen hot 100 list for 2011. Michele ranked 14th on the 2012 Maxim Hot 100. Women's Health Magazine placed Lea Michele as the 3rd Best 2012 Summer Bodies.
In 2010, Michele joined the cast of the animated film Dorothy of Oz, voicing the lead role of Dorothy Gale. She filmed a role in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy New Year's Eve, which was released in 2011.
Before Super Bowl XLV, on February 6, 2011, she performed "America the Beautiful" with the Air Force Tops In Blue.
Candie's announced in 2012 that Lea will be the new spokesperson for their clothing/footwear brand.
On September 18, 2012, it was announced that Lea 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.
Michele was a presenter at the 2013 Golden Globes, co-presenting the award for Best Actress in a TV Series with Nathan Fillion.
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". In April 2010, Michele appeared in a PSA for PETA speaking out against fur clothing. In September 2010, Michele was honored by PETA for her work for animals.
In the support of gay rights, Michele performed at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner in November 2009. In the same month, Michele and Jonathan Groff performed for True Colors Cabaret, a fundraiser in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.
In 2008, Michele performed at a benefit concert, "Alive in the World", 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.
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. In February 2011, she performed for The Grammys' MusiCares Benefit in Los Angeles CA. In April 2012, Michele performed for The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation (JCCF) at UCLA, 17th annual signature fundraiser, Taste for a Cure, with Glee costar Darren Criss.
In July 2012, Michele donated a signed hand print to Valspar Hands for Habitat which was then auctioned off at a charity auction. 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. In a statement she said:
"I am honoured to be partnering with Valspar Paint and Habitat for Humanity to help support those who need our support following natural disasters to get on the pathway to recovery," Lea shared in a statement. "Everyone deserves a safe and secure place to live and it"s a great feeling to know that through Valspar Hands for Habitat, we are bringing hope and comfort to families in need.
Credits and Performances
Les Misérables as Young Cosette (1995-96)
Ragtime as the Little Girl (1998-99)
Fiddler on the Roof as Shprintze and Chava (2004-05)
Spring Awakening as Wendla (2006-08)
Readings and workshops
Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater collaboration (November 2009)
Nero as Octavia (July 2008)
Samson and Delilah as Delilah
King as Anisette
Wuthering Heights as Lucy
Hot and Sweet as Naleen (September 2006)
Spring Awakening as Wendla - Roundabout Theatre Company (2000 and June 2001)
Concerts and events
"Broadway Eastern Bonnet" 2004 benefit performance as Sphrintze (with casts of Avenue Q and Fiddler on the Roof)
Spring Awakening as Wendla - Lincoln Center (February 2005)
Unsung 2007: 'Tis The Season To Be Naughty - Lucille Lortel Theater, New York (December 2007)
Alive in the World, benefit concert - as Phoebe (January 2008)
"Broadway Eastern Bonnet" 2008 benefit performance as Wendla (with cast of Spring Awakening)
Feinstein's (February, April and June 2008)
Flopz n' cutz Concert with Landon Beard, Joe's Pub (April 2008)
Les Misérables Concert as Eponine at the Hollywood Bowl (August 2008)
Upright Cabaret (August 2008)
Broadway Chance Style: Up Close & Personal (September 2008)
Spring Awakening Holiday Benefit Concert - Joe's Pub (December 2008)
Human Rights Campaign Dinner, performer (November 2009).
True Colors Benefit with Jonathan Groff (November 2009)
Glee Live! In Concert! as Rachel Berry; Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City (May 2010)
Glee TV Academy Event at the Music Box, Los Angeles (July 27, 2010)
Rocky Horror Picture Show 35th Anniversary To Benefit The Painted Turtle, as Janet Weiss, Los Angeles (October 2010)
Super Bowl XLV - as performer ("America the Beautiful") Dallas, Texas (February 2011)
MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Barbra Streisand, performer, Los Angeles (February 2011)
Glee Live! In Concert! as Rachel Berry; 22 cities, 40 shows, 4 countries: US, Canada, England, Ireland (May-July 2011)
The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation (JCCF) at UCLA, 17th annual signature fundraiser, Taste for a Cure. April 2012
Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Greater Los Angeles 2012 Rising Stars Gala. October 2012
Ragtime as Little Girl, Toronto Centre for the Arts, Toronto, Ontario (1997)
The Diary of Anne Frank as Anne Frank, Washington, D.C. (2005)
Spring Awakening as Wendla, Atlantic Theatre Company, off Broadway (May-August 2006)
Dove commercials as spokesperson (2010)
Chevrolet commercial, as Rachel Berry: Glee Super Bowl commercial (February 2011)