If you, unlike Lea Michele (allegedly), can read, you may be aware of the widely circulated rumor that she is illiterate. It is based on an inference from a sliver of information, but, more importantly to the internet, it is hilarious.
One More Thing podcasters Jaye Hunt and Robert Ackerman are generally credited with starting the rumor. As previously reported by Jezebel:
It’s a theory based in very little concrete evidence—just an anecdote ripped from Naya Rivera’s book, Sorry Not Sorry, that details how Michele refused to improvise scenes in Glee with veteran actor Tim Conway. Ackerman and Hunt took this tidbit to its most logical and fantastical conclusion, surmising that perhaps the reason Michele did not improvise is because she’s memorized her lines because Ryan Murphy has read them to her because, as stated prior, she can’t read.
Goofy! The kind of thing you don’t dignify with a real response, right? Well, a New York Times writer brought this up to Michele in an interview published Thursday. The focus of the piece was the actor’s new dream gig starring in the Broadway revival of Funny Girl—the production of which can only hope to live up to its casting drama. And here’s what she didn’t say: “Oh yeah, I sooooo cannnn’t read because I’m so busy [gesticulates wildly and abstractly in motions that include but are not limited to extremely large circles with her arms, while making fart sounds with her mouth].”
Here is what she did say:
I went to Glee every single day; I knew my lines every single day. And then there’s a rumor online that I can’t read or write? It’s sad. It really is. I think often if I were a man, a lot of this wouldn’t be the case.
It really is so sad how persecuted some people are. In not at all related news, Michele responded vaguely to allegations of racism and harassment made by her Glee co-stars, saying that their surfacing in 2020 prompted an “intense time of reflection.” Also:
I really understand the importance and value now of being a leader...It means not only going and doing a good job when the camera’s rolling, but also when it’s not. And that wasn’t always the most important thing for me.
Notice how literacy is not one of the qualities Michele cites in a good leader. Hmmmm.
It is also notable that while the Times printed Michele’s refutation of the illiteracy theory, there is no evidence that the writer of the piece had Michele prove her claim by asking her to actually read something. She’ll have to do better if she really wants to convince people.