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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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Before her last audition, Michele got into a car accident. She left the damaged car at the scene and got to the meeting with shards of glass still in her hair.
The creators and producers of the show, including Ryan Murphy, were impressed by Michele. Murphy told USA Today that the part was written especially for her. "I really believe in Lea's talent because her talent was once in a lifetime," he said. The role of an ambitious teenager who dreams of stardom appears to be a good fit for the actress. "Rachel is me when I was that age. She knows what she loves and who she is. She doesn't get caught up in what other people think is important," Michele told New York magazine. Her portrayal of Rachel earned Michele her first Emmy Award nomination in 2010.
Rachel is just one of the misfits that join their high school's beleaguered glee club. Ushkowitz appears as Tina, a punk teen. As Finn Hudson, Cory Monteith is a jock torn between music and sports. Matthew Morrison plays Will Schuester, the teacher that runs the club and tries to keep the club going. And Jane Lynch appears as Schuester's nemesis, a cheerleading coach who wants to bring down the club. Michele's close friend, Jonathan Groff, later signed on as the leader of a rival glee club.
In addition to its interesting characters, Glee features outstanding musical numbers. Michele earned accolades for her take on "Don't Rain on My Parade," originally sung by Barbra Streisand in the musical Funny Girl. The cast's rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" became the top downloaded song on iTunes the day after it was featured in an episode. The show's music has proved to be so popular that several soundtracks have already been released, and Michele and several other cast members played numerous concerts throughout the country in 2010.
Besides working on Glee, Michele will be voicing the character of Dorothy in an animated film based on The Wizard of Oz.
Previously linked to Broadway star Theo Stockman, Michele started dating her Glee co-star Corey Monteith in 2012. Their happy union proved to be brief, however. She supported Monteith's decision to go into rehab in April 2013 to combat his substance abuse problem. But his personal demons overcame him that July. Monteith died in a Vancouver hotel room after taking heroin and drinking alcohol, which ended up being a fatal pairing for the young star.
For weeks, Michele stayed out of the public eye, choosing to grieve in private. She made an appearance at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards to accept one of the event's honors. In her acceptance speech, Michele paid tribute to Monteith. "He was very special to me and also to the world, and we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile and his beautiful, beautiful heart," she told the crowd, according to People magazine.
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