The first time I heard about Lea Michele was in 2007. My then-boyfriend told me I looked just like an actress who was starring in the edgy rock musical Spring Awakening on Broadway. He was right: I checked out this Lea, and she was also short with big Jewish hair and a non-Hollywood nose. I became a devoted Lea-fangirl instantly. And not only because I think she's stunning and everyone tells me I'm her doppelgänger (huge compliment!), but also because she's supertalented and it was the first time I truly related to anyone in Tinseltown.
As Lea went on to claim her spotlight, I watched from the sidelines — seeing her dominate on Glee, attending her live tour shows with the series, buying her songs on iTunes, checking out her movie roles (New Year's Eve, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return), and snagging a copy of her first original album, Louder, when it dropped last December. I once even cut bangs in 2010 because she did. Like Lea and Rachel Berry, I am a performer — just swap singing for years of dancing. When her boyfriend and costar Cory Monteith tragically passed away in 2013, I cried and mourned him for months. OK, call me crazy and obsessive, but Lea truly inspires me, and she is my favorite actress. Ever.
I share my Lea love for a reason: this week, her first-ever book, Brunette Ambition, hits shelves. It's half a memoir about her path to success and partly a lifestyle guide, in which she shares her favorite healthy recipes, workout moves, fashion advice, and beauty DIYs (featuring her hair guru Mark Townsend and makeup maven Melanie Inglessis). There's a special shout-out to Cory, who was able to read it and give her his edits before his final days. Lea also reveals her Glee-like outlook on life, and it hit pretty close to home for me: she opens the book stating how she embraces her uniqueness, her nontraditional Hollywood looks, and even being called a "diva." Readers and fans are encouraged to discover what makes them exclusively special and let that guide their happiness. It's all pretty Zen, but I'll let Lea explain it best in our exclusive interview below!