Lea Michele. Lea Michele Sarfati (born August 29, 1986 in The Bronx, New York City ), known professionally as Lea Michele, is an American actress and singer. Michele began working professionally as a child actor on Broadway in productions such as Les Misérables. She appeared in several more musicals before being selected for the lead role in the hit musical Spring Awakening, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance. She has recently received widespread acclaim for her role as Rachel Berry, which has accumulated Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, in the Fox television series Glee.