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!
POPSUGAR: Your book is almost like a women's magazine — or POPSUGAR! — it has so many sections: health, fitness, beauty, fashion, etc. When did you start working on it?
Lea Michele: I like that! I started working on it in 2012, if not even earlier. It's a very long process — writing and structuring, putting a book together. And then you finish it, and you have at least six months to a year of just doing the photos and editing it. The book was completed in early 2013. Now here we are in May 2014, and it's finally out.
PS: What made you want to create the book?
LM: I have the greatest, most loyal, and awesome fans. And they're always asking me, "What are your audition tips?" "How do you keep your hair healthy?" I also feel like I have a very inspiring and interesting story, so I wanted to let people know who I am and where I came from, while also including those tips that people want to hear.
PS: You offer so much beauty advice that, after reading it, there's almost nothing left for me to ask about your grooming routine! One of my favorite DIYs is the hair mask Mark Townsend created for you. Are there any other tricks that didn't make it in?
LM: Yes, and I'm saving that for my next book!
PS: At the end of the book, you tease us that this isn't the end of the Brunette Ambition brand. Where else do you hope to take it?
LM: Well, I can't say what the next book will be, but I can say that I am working on the next book already, and I really plan on making Brunette Ambition a series. I think that the next one will be a little bit more interactive.
PS: What does the title Brunette Ambition mean to you?
LM: There's such a stereotype [for having] "blonde ambition" and being this perfect look. My whole concept behind the book is that your own personal uniqueness will [help] you to achieve your goals. "Brunette Ambition" is stepping away from the stereotypes and looking at things from a much more unique perspective.
PS: The beginning of the book is about finding your inner light and uniqueness. What would your advice be for finding out what makes you special and honing that?
LM: Unfortunately, so many people spend their time wanting to do things because it's what someone else is doing. It's important to take the time to be quiet and to really listen to yourself. Think about what is it that you want. Don't just do something because someone else says it's cool.
PS: You also reveal that people told you to get a nose job and change your appearance to get ahead. Now you can come back at them and say, "I'm the face of L'Oréal." How do you think the face of beauty is changing?
LM: It's amazing. I think about the women who I share a TV genre with — Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey . I just am so proud to be a part of that circle. And I'm very honored to be around so many talented women, who are also incredibly unique, and that's what makes them successful.
PS: Speaking of TV. We're approaching the final season of Glee. What do you hope for Rachel in the episodes to come?
LM: I really hope to just get to, really get to her core and get to see the Rachel that we knew from season one. It's a very interesting storyline for next year. It's very unique and shocking. But I think it all comes full circle.
PS: In the book, you talk about being on Broadway for Spring Awakening and then moving on to do TV for Glee. Rachel has a similar story arc in which she is doing Funny Girl on Broadway and is then recruited for a TV pilot in LA. Was this inspired by your life?
LM: It definitely was. I think for this season they really kind of based it around [me], because I met Ryan [Murphy] during [my] Spring Awakening [years]. So I think that, yeah, he used that as inspiration for sure.
PS: How do you feel about the fact that it's coming to an end? It's obviously been such a big part of your life.
LM: I could do Glee for forever. I love it. I've always loved playing Rachel. I love being part of the show. It will be very emotional, but I do think it's time for everyone to move on.
PS: What do you want to do next, career-wise?
LM: I definitely want to tour my record, and I want to make a second record. I'd like to squeeze in a film. But I also have to start working on the second book. I'm enjoying performing, recording the album, and making music videos, so that's really what's inspiring me right now.
PS: You released your music video for "On My Way"  this week. Can you share the video inspiration? It looks very Coachella!
LM: I wanted it to be very natural. The "Cannonball" video was obviously a very intense story, and it dealt with a lot of darkness but also a lighter side. So for this, I just wanted grounded, free, earthy, and fun. The album is superfun but it also has some serious elements to it. So it was very important for me to show that fun side of me and me just having a good time. It's definitely very sexy and not something my dad will ever watch. But I like that, I like pushing the limit and taking chances.
PS: Would you ever do an album that had more Broadway feel?
LM: No, I will not record Broadway songs. Broadway songs should only be sung on the stage, not on a record [laughs].
PS: I respect that. What feedback have you gotten from the people who are mentioned in the book? There are so many odes to your people in there.
LM: My dad cried the minute he saw the book. So did my mom. I'm so thankful for all of the people around me, not only over the past five years but especially over the past year. I talk a lot about that in my book, about how grateful I am that I took a long time to create a very strong circle and support system in LA. They were really there for me the most when I needed them. I've also learned so much about makeup from Melanie and friendship from Jonathan [Groff], and I wanted to share that with my fans.
PS: I love the chapter about you and Melanie doing many skin care rituals on planes.
LM: It's embarrassing. I got yelled at one time, though, because I was doing so much, like spraying oils in the air. I never stop.
PS: That's hysterical.
LM: But we look crazy. We put on full face masks and they must think that we're like crazy. People will stare at us but then occasionally people will come up to us and say, "What is that? I want that."
PS: Flights are impossible, but I'm sure you look great when you come off.
LM: Yes, that's why Melanie and I are going to create our own travel supplies.
PS: If you don't get enough sleep, what do you do to look refreshed?
LM: I always keep in mind that sleep is cumulative. So if you have five days of getting 10 hours of sleep, you can go three with only getting four a night. It stocks up. But I always take a bath before I go to bed, chug a bottle of water, and then do a face mask in the morning. I'm not going to stay up late knowing that in a couple days I have Good Morning America in the morning.
PS: The book explains how you live a very centered, balanced life. It made me feel like, "OK Lauren, get it together! Go to Whole Foods! Stock up!"
LM: I do really live a very regimented, it's just what works for me. That's the truth. But I'm proud to say that there's nothing in my book that I don't actually do every day and sometimes you read these books, and you're like, "Do you really do that?" But honestly, like everyone who knows me will tell you, I do these things all the time. Like when Amber Riley came up to me one time and told me that I smell like a tea bag because I had so many oils.
For more of Lea's beauty tips, order Brunette Ambition  on Amazon now.