'There’s a rumour I can’t read.' 6 things we learnt from Lea Michele's The New York Times profile.

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Over the past two years, Lea Michele has been at the centre of online controversy, with multiple former co-stars claiming the actress bullied them on the set of Glee

Now that she's about to play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway (that's another controversy in itself), she's addressing it. 

Earlier this week The New York Times published a profile with the 36-year-old where she discusses everything from her upcoming role to the allegations and *that* wild rumour.

Here are six things we learned.

1. Lea Michele has wanted to star in Funny Girl since she was a teenager.

The NYT article opens with an anecdote about the first time Lea Michele watched the 1968 film, Funny Girl.

Profiler Julia Jacobs, writes how when the actress was starring in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening and was "heartbroken over a guy", the show's director, Michael Mayer, told her to watch the film.

After watching it twice, Michele knew she wanted to someday play the lead, Fanny Brice, on Broadway. (At this point, the show had only been on Broadway once in 1964.)

Weeks later, the actress told television writer Ryan Murphy - who would later create Glee - about the film over dinner. 

Yep, that's when he decided Rachel Berry - the character Michele would go on to play for six years - would also have aspirations of playing Fanny Brice.


Michele's Glee character Rachel Berry and her Funny Girl moments. Image: 20th Century Fox Television. 


2. She addresses those bullying claims.

Back in June 2020, when Michele tweeted her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, her former Glee co-star Samantha Ware responded, calling out the actress for how she treated her on set. 

"Remember when you made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget," Ware tweeted in all caps. 

"I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would 'sh*t in my wig!' amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood."


Samantha Ware. Image: Getty.

Her account was backed up by other Glee actors, including Amber Riley – one of the main cast members, who played Mercedes – who posted a GIF of her sipping tea. Alex Newell, who appeared on four seasons of the show, also backed Ware.

The allegations of bullying, racism and meanness continued.

Days later, Michele apologised on Instagram.

"The responses I received to what I posted [on Twitter in support of BLM] have made me focus specifically on how my own behaviour towards fellow cast members was perceived by them," she wrote. 


"Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologise for my behaviour and for any pain which I have caused."

In her new profile, Michele said the allegations prompted an "intense time of reflection" about how she acts at work.

"I really understand the importance and value now of being a leader," she said. 

"It means not only going and doing a good job when the camera’s rolling, but also when it’s not. And that wasn’t always the most important thing for me."

The 36-year-old also credits her "intense work style" for her bad behaviour.

"I have an edge to me. I work really hard. I leave no room for mistakes," she said. 

"That level of perfectionism, or that pressure of perfectionism, left me with a lot of blind spots."

3. And the rumour she can't read.

Michele also addressed the wild theory that she's illiterate.

"I went to Glee every single day; I knew my lines every single day," she told Jacobs. "And then there’s a rumour online that I can’t read or write? It’s sad. It really is."

"I think often if I were a man, a lot of this wouldn’t be the case," she added.

In case you weren't across it, the rumour started in 2017 when podcast hosts Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman read Naya Rivera’s autobiography, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.


In it, Rivera alleged that during an episode with guest star Tim Conway, he suggested improvising scenes, but Michele refused.

The podcast hosts then found further "evidence" that the actress can't read or write. 

Here's a full explainer:

4. She touches on her relationship with Cory Monteith.

Michele briefly mentioned her relationship with former co-star, Cory Monteith.

On July 13, 2013, Monteith - who played lead character Finn Hudson - was found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver.


The 31-year-old's death was ruled to be accidental, the result of a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol, leaving Michele and her co-stars devastated.

Speaking to Jacobs, Michele said she got a "quick education on addiction" while dating him.

Cory Monteith and Lea Michele. Image: Getty.

5. Before casting Beanie Feldstein in Funny Girl, Michele was considered.

As briefly mentioned earlier, the other controversy Michele has been embroiled in has everything to do with her new role as Fanny Brice.


Here's a quick explainer:

In 2021, it was announced that a revival of Funny Girl was in the works, over 40 years after its first run. Beanie Feldstein was announced as the lead.

Once the show began in April, the reviews weren't fantastic - not terrible, but not kind either.

In June, Funny Girl announced that Feldstein would be leaving the show on September 25. They didn't provide a concrete reason for her departure, but many assumed it was due to the ratings and reviews.

Beanie Feldstein. Image: Getty.


A few weeks later, Feldstein released a statement saying she would leave the show even earlier, on July 31. Hours later, Michele announced she would be the show's new replacement.

When Feldstein was originally cast there were rumours Michele didn't get the role because the bullying claims.

However, according to the show's director, Michael Mayer, it was because Michele had just given birth to her daughter, Ever.

"I said, 'Look, I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear, but this is what we’re doing,'" Mayer recalled telling her.

He added: "'I would love to do Funny Girl with you some time.'"

When they asked her to be Feldstein's replacement, Michele said she would be "honoured" to step in.

6. She doesn't care that she isn't eligible for a Tony Award.

Although Funny Girl is the role of her dreams, Michele can't gain the biggest recognition for it: winning a Tony Award.

There are rules which stipulate only the originating actress in that production - Feldstein - can be considered for the award.

The actress insists she isn't bothered about it.

"You might think that’s the biggest piece of bull that I’m going to say to you all day," Michele told Jacobs. 

"But I really don’t care about that at this point. It’s just about being able to play this part."

You can read the full profile here.

Feature image: Getty/Fox/Mamamia.