It is not a common occurrence to see a Broadway actress go on to become a major Hollywood A-lister but if there is one person that has been able to pull off this feat, it is none other than Lea Michele. A native of the Bronx, New York, Michele accidentally dabbled into acting at the age of eight and made her debut in a production of Les Misérable. She later proved that she had the talent to back up her talk and before long, became a star on Broadway.
From Broadway, Lea Michele successfully transplanted herself to Hollywood in 2009 and since then, has never looked back. She has featured in a series of hit TV series as well as movies. She has also diversified her act to the music world and has several bestselling singles and albums to her name. All these have fetched her several awards and in 2010, Billboard gave her their first triple threat award in recognition of her achievements in acting, dancing as well as music.
Her Days As a Broadway Ingénue
Lea Michele was born on the 29th of August 1986 in the Bronx, New York. She, however, grew up in Tenafly, a city in New Jersey, alongside her father, Mark David Sarfati, and, mother, Edith Thomasina Procelli Sarfati. Her dad was a one-time shop owner, who sold cooked meats, cheeses, and foreign prepared foods before he turned to a real estate agent while her mother is a nurse.
Michele had her elementary education at Rockland County Day School. While growing up, she never aspired to become an actress. She rather dreamt of being a grocer or waiter and sustained that dream until a friend asked her to accompany her to an audition for a production of Les Misérable. This was at the age of eight and during the try-outs, Michele decided to participate on a whim. She ended up landing the role of young Cosette and from there, a career on Broadway was born.
Lea Michele spent her teenage years appearing in other Broadway plays such as Ragtime (1997 – 1999) and Fiddler On The Roof (2004 – 2005). In the year 2006, she originated the role of Wendla in Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s rock musical version of Spring Awakening on Broadway. Her excellent performance in the play fetched her a drama desk nomination for the best actress. It also helped her land her iconic role on the TV series Glee.
Lea Michele’s Acting Career Breakthrough Role on Glee
Once the curtain closed on Spring Awakening, Lea Michele and her agent shopped for other Broadway projects that she could take on. The actress also visited Hollywood to see if she could get any scripts and during one of such visits, she got wind of a proposed comedy-musical about a bunch of misfits in a high school choir and their idealistic music teacher.
The series was titled Glee and involved copious amounts of dancing and singing (at least four songs a show). This automatically attracted Michele as she was a natural-born performer. She, therefore, poured in all her efforts into the audition without knowing that the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, had written the female lead role specifically for her.
To cut the long story short, Michele eventually landed the role of Racheal Berry and for six seasons (2009 – 2015), she held sway as the leading female star of Glee. Her portrayal of the high-strung, star-obsessed singer propelled her to stardom and made her a household name in America.
She also earned several awards in the course of the show including the 2009 Satellite Award for best actress in a TV series comedy or musical, People’s Choice Award for best actress (2012, 2013 and 2014), Teen Choice TV actress (2012, 2013, and 2014) and the SAG Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series (2010).
Other Projects She Embarked On After Glee
Lea Michele’s name will always be synonymous with Glee but this does not mark the extent of her Hollywood career. Since the show ended, the Bronx native has gone on to feature in several other TV series as well as a handful of movies including Sons of Anarchy, Dimension 404, The Mayor, Same Time, Next Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Scream Queens.
Scream Queens is a comedy slasher series about a sorority that is haunted by a serial killer disguised in the form of the university’s mascot. The show featured the likes of Emma Roberts and Keke Palmer while Michele portrayed the two-faced, psychotic, and death-obsessed Hester Ulrich. Her character proved quite memorable and she received two Teen Choice awards for Choice TV actress – comedy and choice TV villain.
A Look At Her Strides in THe Music Industry
During her days on Glee, Lea Michele and her castmates recorded several incredible song covers for use in the course of the show. Those covers rose to become bestselling singles and also charted on Billboard Hot 100 (according to estimates, about 89 songs from the Glee cast made it to the Billboard hot 100, beating the record for most appearances by none solo-acts held by The Beatles – 75). The cast also embarked on a tour of North America, England, and Ireland.
All these helped establish Michele as a talented music act and in 2012, she announced that she was working on her first solo album titled Louder. It was later released in 2014 and featured singles such as Cannonball and On My Way. It debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart and went on sell more than 100,000 copies in the US alone. Since that feat, Michele has dropped at least two other albums namely Places (2017) and Christmas in the City (2019) and they have also recorded success.
The Tragic Death of her Boyfriend and Co-star
Before Michele got married, she was in a lovely relationship with Canadian actor Cory Monteith. She and Cory were love interests on Glee and made their romance a real one in the year 2011. They remained together for about two years during which their love grew from strength to strength. The couple wholeheartedly supported each other and revealed that they had talked about babies, marriage, and growing old together. Cory sadly passed away in 2013 from an overdose in his hotel room.
His death predictably devastated Michele and she struggled for several months to cope. She, however, pulled herself together with the help of friends and family. The Glee has now moved on with her life but she has not forgotten her former beau. She has gotten two tattoos in his honor. She also makes it a point of duty to commemorate the anniversary of his passing. On the 7th anniversary of Cory’s death in July 2020, Michele shared a white and black photo of him holding flowers.
Finding her Happily-Ever-After
Lea Michele is happily married to an entrepreneur, Zandy Reich. Reich was born on the 24th of January 1983 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the President of the US-based female apparel producing company AYR. The duo was rumored to have started dating in July 2017, before taking it a step further on the 28th April 2018 by getting engaged.
They later tied the knot on the 9th of March 2019 in northern California. The ceremony was officiated by Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, and many of the show’s stars were in attendance. The couple bride dazzled in a strapless ball gown while her groom looked dapper in a navy blue suit. The couple has been living happily since and is set to welcome their first child in 2020.