Lea Michele Sarfati was born in the Bronx,
New York to parents Edith (Porcelli), a nurse, and Mark Sarfati, a delicatessen
owner-turned-real estate agent. She made her debut on Broadway in 1995 as a
replacement for the role of Young Cosette in "Les Misérables".
Following her theatrical debut, Lea was cast in the role of Tateh's daughter,
the Little Girl, in the 1998 original Broadway cast of "Ragtime" and,
in 2004, Lea portrayed Shprintze and understudied the role of Chava in the
Broadway revival of the musical "Fiddler on the Roof".
When she was fourteen, Lea was given the role
of Wendla Bergmann in Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's musical version of "Spring Awakening". She
starred in early workshops, off-Broadway and, finally, originated the role in
the Broadway production at the age of twenty. Around the same time that the
show was set to go to Broadway, Lea was offered the role of Éponine Thénardier
in the Broadway revival of "Les Misérables". However, she chose to
remain with "Spring Awakening", which debuted on Broadway in December
2006. She was later nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in
a Musical. After two years of starring in "Spring Awakening", Lea
left the show with co-star Jonathan Groff, to pursue other opportunities.
In late 2008, Lea won the role of Rachel Berry
on the comedy-drama series Glee(2009),
and since the show's premiere on May 19, 2009, has received worldwide critical
acclaim for her performance. She received the 2009 Satellite Award for Best
Actress in a Series - Comedy or Musical, and later won three People's Choice
Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Along with her award wins, Lea also
received Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations.