Lea Michele’s casting in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl” has sparked polarized feelings as well as inquires if the actress is able to read.
Her casting was announced on July 11, but what went viral on Twitter were jokes about if she could read or write.
Lea Michele Points To Perfectionism Amid ‘Toxic’ Accusations Of Her Behavior And Shoots Down Rumor She Can’t Read
The 36-year-old actor deemed the joke as sexist in an interview with The New York Times published Sept. 1
“I went to ‘Glee’ every single day; I knew my lines every single day,” she told the outlet. “And then there’s a rumor 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.”
Rumors that Michele is illiterate seemingly originated in 2018 when two superfans, Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman, said on their podcast, “One More Thing,” that she never learned to read or write because, when she began her career at age 9 in “Les Misérables,” she’d learn lines by hearing and memorizing.
Hunt and Ackerman also heavily researched her social media patterns and found she usually captions her posts with emoji, and the pair speculated that meant she cannot read or write. Their assertions created an uproar on Twitter and ever since, the joke continues to go strong on social media.
Another reason Michele has been in the news cycle is due to previous accusations by made by her “Glee” co-stars in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020. Michele owned up to past errors in her New York Times interview as well.
“I have an edge to me,” she told the outlet. “I work really hard. I leave no room for mistakes. That level of perfectionism, or that pressure of perfectionism, left me with a lot of blind spots.”
Michele said she has since grown a lot since. “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 accusations came after Michele tweeted (and has since deleted), “George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter.”
To which Samantha Marie Ware, a recurring cast member in Season 6 of “Glee,” responded to Michele’s support in a response posted to Twitter (that is also now deleted), saying in all caps, “LMAO REMEMBER WHEN YOU MADE MY FIRST TELEVISON GIG A LIVING HELL?!?! CAUSE ILL NEVER FORGET. I BELIEVE YOU TOLD EVERYONE THAT IF TOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WOULD “S*** IN MY WIG!” AMONGST OTHER TRAUMATIC MICROAGRESSIONS THAT MADE ME QUESTION A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD.”
Dabier Snell, who guest-starred in a 2014 episode of the show, tweeted, “GIRL YOU WOULDNT LET ME SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THE OTHER CAST MEMBERS CAUSE ‘I DIDNT BELONG THERE’ F— YOU LEA.”
Michele responded and apologized to her co-stars in an Instagram post on June 3, 2020, saying, “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 apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” she continued.
“We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”
“I know I need to keep working to better myself and take responsibility for my actions, so that I can be a real role model for my child and so I can pass along my lessons and mistakes, so that they can learn from me,” she concluded. “I listened to these criticisms and I am learning and while I am very sorry, I will be better in the future from this experience.”
Michele will debut in “Funny Girl” as Fanny Brice on September 6. The production released a first-look at Michele in character last month.
“Everyone here has been through a lot, and I just have to come in and be prepared and do a good job and be respectful of the fact that this is their space,” Michele said, referring to the many reports of backstage drama at “Funny Girl” amid middling critical reviews and just one Tony nomination.
And while she isn’t eligible for a Tony Award she didn’t originate the role, the actress says she is unbothered by it.
“You might think that’s the biggest piece of bulls— that I’m going to say to you all day,” Michele said. “But I really don’t care about that at this point. It’s just about being able to play this part.”
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