Lea Michele: I Stayed True to Who I Am, And I’m Very Proud of That

Lea Michele: I Stayed True to Who I Am, And I'm Very Proud of That

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Just like her iconic character Rachel Berry on the hit show Glee, Lea Michele did not find her footing in Hollywood easily. And, she says, “I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

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The actress stopped by AwesomenessTV this week for an event celebrating our new show about girls in sports, Versus. She spoke to a group of teen athletes about the benefits of playing sports (Michele played volleyball in high school), and what she learned from her time as an athlete. 

In an interview, she opened up to ATV about overcoming the hurdles life has thrown her way, and not changing who she is for anyone or any role. Read on for our inspiring conversation!

AwesomenessTV: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your career that you’ve overcome?

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Lea Michele: For me, I think at the end of the day, I moved to L.A. and I started out in this business with a lot of people telling me that there wouldn’t be opportunities for me, and I really feel like I proved a lot of people wrong.

I stayed true to who I am, and I didn’t change who I am in any way, whether it’s physically or whatnot. And I’m very proud of that. And by sticking to who I am and what I believe in, I think that’s really what’s gotten me to where I am today.

ATV: Have you ever taken a flaw and turned it into a strength?

LM: Oh my gosh, look at my nose! Everyone always said that was the biggest flaw and I should change it, and now I’m like, ‘This is what defines me.’ I think now when people look at me they go, ‘Yeah, that’s Lea Michele.’ Just like Barbra Streisand.

ATV: What’s something you used to think was really important that turned out not to be?

LM: When I was growing up, I was on Broadway at a young age and a lot of girls that I knew were getting famous very quickly. Mandy Moore was someone that I thought was so incredible, and she’d signed her first record deal I think by the time she was 16. I was like, ‘I have to get this now…everyone else is making records and signing record deals at young ages,’ and I was not getting my big break.

I didn’t end up signing a record deal until I was in my mid-20s, and I wouldn’t change that for anything because I grew up; I learned who I was. I thought it was such a big deal at the time to be doing everything at the same time that everyone else was, and I really learned that my time came when it was right for me.

ATV: What’s something you learned as an athlete that you’ve applied to your career?

LM: Some days you have bad games and you don’t do a good job, but you still have to hold your head high and suck it up and go out and play another game the next day and not let it get to you, and not let it get in your head.

I learned how to take care of myself. You can’t get on a court and play a game if you’re tired or not in your best mood or spirit physically, so that’s super important. And also, how to be involved in a team. All those things are so important no matter what you want to do or be for the rest of your life.

ATV: What is your relationship to sports now? Do you still play or follow any sports?

LM: I love sports, I’m a big football girl. My dad took me to hockey games my entire life. I love, love, love sports. I don’t play as many sports anymore, although I am very active.

ATV: What is your biggest wellness tip for someone on a budget?

LM: Drink water 24/7. Electrolyte water. That’s the best thing that you can do for yourself. And sleep. Sleep is free. Get as much of it as you can. Wash your face before you go to bed at night. And don’t pick your pimples. Those are all free. And don’t smoke. That will save you a lot of money, too.

ATV: What inspired your Wellness Wednesday series?

LM: I love the Wellness Wednesday series! I have a lot of young fans, especially girls, that follow me on social media. I grew up in the Bronx, I’m from Manhattan, [and] everything I learned is because I discovered it myself. So I want to take the things that I’ve learned and show them to young girls and maybe anything that I’ve picked up along the way they can integrate into their life, whether it’s a healthy snack choice or a new class that I tried that they might like.

If they don’t have the connections or they don’t have the resources right now, hopefully I can be that kind of bridge to help them integrate wellness in their lives. I’ll be the guinea pig for some of my young fans and show them that it is accessible and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

I try to make everything that I do on my Wellness Wednesday accessible for anyone on their budget or whatever age they are or whatever they are looking for. And I try to switch it up.

This week is going to be about hair. I’m really excited about that. I just got this new shower head that purifies the water, it’s the best. It’s so good for your hair and your skin, [but] I was so afraid [to put it up] because my boyfriend wasn’t home. I was like, ‘I will put this shower head on by myself!’ and I did it. I was so proud.

Dahlia Neeman
Dahlia Neeman

Dahlia is a writer that is happy to have left the Northeast snow for the LA sun. She loves all things movies, music and pop culture, and is an editor and writer at AwesomenessTV.