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Actress Lea Michele landed the role of Rachel Berry, an ambitious teenager who dreams of stardom, on the TV show Glee.
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Lea Michele was born on August 29, 1986, in the Bronx, New York. Her career-making turn occurred in 2006 with Spring Awakening, a rock musical, but left the cast in 2008. Moving out to Los Angeles, Michele sought out movie and television roles. One of her aspirations at the time was to get a guest spot on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Michele ended up getting a much more substantial role on Glee.
"I am an unconventional beauty. I grew up in a high school where if you didn't have a nose job and money and if you weren't thin, you weren't cool, popular, beautiful."
Actress Lea Michele Sarfati was born on August 29, 1986, in the Bronx, New York. Sarfati discovered her passion for performing at an early age. Growing up in Tenafly, New Jersey, she was drawn to nearby New York City's vibrant theater scene. At the age of 8, Michele landed the role of young Cosette in the Broadway production of Les Miserables. She sang a song from Phantom of the Opera, the only musical she knew at the time, at her audition. Michele had gone to the audition to support a friend, but ended up landing the part herself.
The daughter of a deli owner and a nurse, Michele moved on to another Broadway production, Ragtime, in 1995. She played the Little Girl, the quiet daughter of a Jewish immigrant. The cast included such well-known Broadway talents as Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell. She landed another break in 2004 with a role in a revival of Fiddler on the Roof starring Alfred Molina. Accepted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts that same year, Michele decided to forgo college to pursue her career.
Despite her success on the stage, Michele did not fit in easily at her high school. "I am an unconventional beauty. I grew up in a high school where if you didn't have a nose job and money and if you weren't thin, you weren't cool, popular, beautiful," she told USA Today.
Michele's career-making turn occurred in 2006 with Spring Awakening, a rock musical based on the 1891 play by Frank Webekind. The production depicts a group of German teenagers who explore their sexuality. Michele had to handle some serious and sometimes explicit material in her role as Wendla. "I'm in a see-through nightgown and in a beating scene," she explained to WWD. Wendla becomes involved with Melchoir (played by Jonathan Groff) with disastrous results. Off stage, the two performers became best friends. She also worked with future Glee co-star Jenna Ushkowitz on the production. Michele and Groff left the cast of Spring Awakening at the same time in May of 2008.
Moving out to Los Angeles, Michele sought out movie and television roles. One of her aspirations at the time was to get a guest spot on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy. Michele ended up getting a much more substantial role on Glee. Landing the part of Rachel Berry had its challenges, however. She believed that she flopped in her first audition. "The piano player messed up the song, and they were laughing so hard I had to tell them it was a serious scene and ask them to stop laughing," she told New York magazine.
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