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Lea MicheleLea 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 was born in the Bronx, New York City, the daughter of Edith Sarfati, a nurse, and Marc Sarfati, a delicatessen owner.  Michele's mother is Italian American and Roman Catholic, while her father is a Spanish Sephardic Jew.  Michele 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.  She was then later accepted to the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, but opted instead to continue working professionally on the stage.

At eight years old, Michele went with a friend 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.

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.

In 2008, Michele performed at a benefit concert, "Alive in the World", to aid the Twin Tower Orphan Fund.  Michele has also been active with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  For Broadway Cares, Michele has participated in Broadway Barks, Broadway Bares, The Easter Bonnet Competition and The Flea Market and Grand Auction.

In October 2010, Michele performed at a benefit concert for the Painted Turtle, a camp for children with illnesses.  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.

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