Lea Michele Sarfati, born August 29, 1986 known professionally as Lea Michele, is an American actress and singer. Michele began working professionally as a child actress on Broadway in productions such as Ragtime and Les Misérables. She originated the role of Wendla in the musical Spring Awakening and currently plays Rachel Berry in the Fox television series Glee. Michele performs in the soprano range.
Michele was born in the Bronx, New York City, the daughter 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 around "both" of her parents' religions. She grew up in New York City and 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.
At eight years old, Michele went with a friend named Angela Hind to an open call for a musical. She decided on a whim she wanted to try out. She was offered the part and made her debut on Broadway in 1995 as a replacement in the role of Young Cosette in the New York City production of Les Misérables. This was followed by her performance of the role of Tateh's daughter, the Little Girl, in the 1998 original Broadway cast of Ragtime. In 2004, Michele played Shprintze and Chava in the Broadway revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. She also sang on the 2003 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.
On May 18, 2008, Michele left Spring Awakening with co-stars Jonathan Groff. She performed in a reading of Sheik and Sater's new musical, Nero, in July 2008 at Vassar College. From August 8–10, 2008, she portrayed Eponine in the Hollywood Bowl's Les Misérables concert. She sings on the original Broadway cast recordings of Ragtime and Spring Awakening.
Michele stars in the Fox television series Glee, where she plays the star singer of a high school glee club, Rachel Berry. The pilot debuted on May 19, 2009. She has won a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding ensemble performance and the 2009 Satellite Award for best actress. 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. Her cover of The All-American Rejects' "Gives You Hell" reached the top 40 on the US Billboard 200.
In 2010, Michele joined the cast of the animated film Dorothy of Oz, voicing the lead role of Dorothy Gale. That same year, she joined the cast of Garry Marshall's romantic comedy New Year's Eve.
Before Super Bowl XLV, on February 6, 2011, she performed "America the Beautiful" with the Air Force Tops In Blue.
Michele is active in participating in charities for gay rights and animal rights, as well as in numerous other charities. 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 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.
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, proceeds from the event go to help musicians in need.
King as Anisette
Wuthering Heights as Lucy
Hot and Sweet as Naleen (September 2006)
"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)
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)
MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Barbra Streisand, performer, Los Angeles CA. (February 2011)
Glee Live! In Concert! as Rachel Berry; 22 cites, 40 shows, 4 countries, USA, Canada, England, Ireland (May–July 2011)
Nike workout application as spokesperson (2011)
HP TouchPad commercial (2011)
Film and television
1998 Buster and Chanucey's Silent Night voice for various characters
2000 Third Watch Sammi "Spring Forward Fall Back" (Season 1, episode 19)
2008 Around the Block Herself Pilot
2009–present Glee Rachel Berry 44 episodes
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)
2011 Glee: The 3D Concert Movie Rachel Berry/Herself
2011 New Year's Eve Elise
2012 Dorothy of Oz Dorothy Gale