Lea Michele Sarfati was born in The Bronx, New York, on August 29, 1986. She grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, where she attended Tenafly High School. She is an only child.
Michele debuted on Broadway in 1995 as a replacement cast member (Young Cosette) in the original New York production of Les Miserables. This was followed by her creation 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 revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Regionally, she has appeared in the title role in The Diary of Anne Frank.
Michele’s television appearances to date include Third Watch and Guiding Light. Michele has also appeared in the “FOX” show, “Glee” for which she stars in playing Rachel Berry.
At age 14, Michele won the role of Wendla in the workshop for Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s musical version of Spring Awakening. She was part of two subsequent workshops for the same part, and after performing in the off-Broadway production, she was offered the chance to originate the Broadway role in 2006. Around the same time, she was invited to perform the role of Eponine in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. She chose to remain with Spring Awakening, which debuted on Broadway December 10, 2006.
In April 2007 Michele was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in Spring Awakening, as Lead Actress in a Musical.
On May 18, 2008, Lea Michele left Spring Awakening with co-star Jonathan Groff and was replaced by former Wendla understudy and ensemble member Alexandra Socha. On August 8, 9, and 10, 2008, Michele portrayed Eponine in the Hollywood Bowl’s Les Misérables concert.
On August 15 and 16, 2008 she performed with Upright Cabaret in Los Angeles at Mark’s Restaurant to a sold out crowd each night. She also made a special performance with John Lloyd Young.
On September 27, 2008, Lea performed in Santa Ana, California’s the Chance Theater with “Wicked” alum Eden Espinosa, and with “Legally Blonde” alum Laura Bell Bundy for the Broadway Chance Style Up Close and Personal concert.
She performed in a reading of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s new musical Nero, in July 2008 at Vassar College, also featuring Idina Menzel and Michael Arden.
She currently plays the star female singer of a high school’s glee club in FOX’s new show Glee. The pilot aired on May 19, 2009 to rave reviews.
Michele can be heard on the original Broadway cast recordings of Ragtime and Spring Awakening, as well as the 2003 Revival recording of Fiddler on the Roof.
Michele’s first feature film was Gary Marshall’s New Year’s Eve. Also on the big screen, Michele lent her vocal talents to the animated 3D musical Dorothy of Oz, voicing the movie’s lead role and singing on several original numbers alongside Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Kelsey Grammer.