Lea Michele: I Was Told I Wasn't 'Pretty Enough' for Fame

08/03/2011 at 08:00 AM ET

Lea Michele Harper's Bazaar
Mark Seliger for Harper’s Bazaar

Though she’s currently one of Hollywood’s hottest stars, Lea Michele remembers a time when she was told she’d never make it. “How many managers told me, ‘Get a nose job. You’re not pretty enough?'” she recalls in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar. “But I proved them wrong.”

Now one of Glee‘s soon-to-be graduates, Michele is savoring her status — and eyeing her next steps. “I don’t stop,” she says of her booming career. “It’s my nature. People have to tell me to slow down. I plan on playing every role on Broadway … I want to do movies, make music. Glee is only the beginning.”

And while some may see her ambition as snobbery, she says she and her castmates are just seizing the moment. “People have to remember this is all new for us,” she explains. “We’re all reasonably young … I’ve learned some lessons. But people are going to say what they want to say. I know who I am, and I’m not perfect.”

What she is, though, is stylish; lately, she’s been hitting red carpets in looks by Versace, Escada and Oscar de la Renta, and graces Bazaar‘s pages in Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Valentino, Moschino and Lanvin. But fashion still feels new to the star. “I’m five-foot-three,” she muses. “I don’t look like a lot of other people, you know what I mean? I look like I’m 12.”

Admitting she’s “not a big spender,” she says she’s happiest at home with her Broadway beau, Theo Stockman. “What I do is what I do, and what he does is what he does, and when I come home, we have each other,” she says. For more with Michele, visit harpersbazaar.com/leamichele.

–Kate Hogan

Lea Michele Harper's Bazaar
Mark Seliger for Harper’s Bazaar


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Showing 78 comments

Natalie on

Lea is a very talented girl–here’s to hoping that she stays humble and true to herself.

Mrs JP on

EWWW Lea Michele sucks and needs to go away, like GLEE!

She’s a bit of a DIVA and you can tell. And GLEE needs to be canceled that show is HORRIBLE and LAME!

Plae on

She is basically Rachel Berry with a bigger ego.

LA on

Mrs..JP? Why do you care so much? I will bet apples to Oranges you were the Girl in High school they named two face!!!You sound like a Lil baby Chihuahua on steroids…Do you family and friends a favor get a life.

Angel on

She IS pretty! And as far as the show, I don’t watch it myself, as it doesn’t interest me. If you don’t like a show, don’t watch it, and stop complaining!

Christine on

So what is the big deal if she has ambition? As long as she is hurting noone, why can’t she have high goals? So many of us get old regretting what we should have done but didn’t. And I’m glad she has that kind of confidence. We could all use some. At least she won’t die saying she didn’t try. Good for her!

trsquare on

I’m a 50-year-old Gleek, and just absolutely adore all of those kids on the show. Lea appears to be her character — a bit egotistical (because she knows she’s good), but also a bit shy because she’s seeking the approval of others. Dynamite singer who’ll be gracing us with that voice for years to come.

Donna on

Wow, we certainly do love ourselves to a distraction, don’t we?

GleekyGal01 on

Seriously MrsJP you need to get a life stop hating on Lea just because she has natural talent and is more prettier then you so stop hating!

Glenn on

Have those “managers” ever actually seen Lady Gaga?

BRinMilwaukee on

Lea is awesome, and the reason I watch Glee. When she leaves, I leave. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

Elsa Polanco on

I am glad she didn’t get a nose job.

Lucia on

I wouldn’t say she’s not pretty enough for fame. She’s not very easy on the eyes, but looks aren’t everything. She can sing and she has the drive to be successful. So good for her.

James on

And I’m supposed to feel sorry for her? I don’t buy the fact that nobody told her she’d never make it. I’m guessing she’s been handed everything her whole life and constantly told how wonderful she is.

djay on

She is a very weird looking girl. I’m sure she can work on Broadway. But I don’t think she will have a big movie or tv career after Glee. If she isn’t singing most people wont want to look at her 30mins to an hour once a week.

Anner on

Barbra Streisand anyone?

hlj on

She isn’t pretty. She may be talented and well dressed but she isn’t really a pretty girl. Like Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz, they are always impeccably dressed but that doesn’t make them pretty.

NancyP on

I believe Barbra Streisand was told to get her nose fixed when she first started out….and look how her career turned out!! Stay true to who you are, Lea. Ambition is a good thing and you can definitely sing!!!

CJ on

I cannot stand her. She can’t act. I can’t wait until her dimly-lit star (um…the ONLY thing she’s done on TV is Glee, people. I wouldn’t call her “one of Hollywood’s hottest stars) BURNS OUT!

Anonymous on

If she mentions her nose or her lack of a nose job one time, I’m going to snap, punch her in the face and make her have to get a nose job.

Cathy on

Anonymous, although that was a little intense, I agree with you. At first I thought it was great because she really was being a role model for young girls out there, but now that she’s mentioned it over and over and over again, I really feel as if it’s all for press and publicity, rather than trying to be a good role model.

Kim on

Youre not

Jill on

She’s not pretty or beautiful. She’s average in looks but she found a boyfriend and sings well so her life seems alright.

me on

She doesn’t sound like a diva at all. A diva is someone who acts like a b–tch to everyone around her and feels entitled to do so. This girl sounds like a survivor to me and anyone who thinks less is obviously jealous that they aren’t as strong.

Michele on

I have never seen anyone mugging for the cameras like this one! She is too full of herself, and its off putting. As a long time subscriber to H.B. I am sick of celebrities on the cover. This gal will be in the where are they now column in 18 months anyway. Truth be know, she would look better with a nose job.

Jackie on

I don’t find her “pretty.” I don’t thinks she proved the people who told her she wasn’t “pretty enough” wrong, she just proved that you don’t need to be “pretty” to get a job on a tv show that becomes a very successful tv show. She can sing, and that was what was wanted, more than a “pretty” face was wanted.

Michele on

Natalie, Lol “stays humble” I think its a little late to even hope for that!!! Natalie you might want to refresh yourself on the definition of humble.

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lika on

she should get a nose job, some humility and some talent. she constantly compares herself to barbra streisand…says that’s why she won’t get a nose job. barbra didn’t because it might have ruined her voice. babs HAS a voice to ruin…lea just screams.

Carmen Diane Carder on

I think she is very pretty. She kind of reminds me of Natalie Portman. Certainly not one thing wrong with her looks. I have never seen the show, but as far as her pictures go she is pretty, and who is that said cameron Diaz isn’t pretty has got to be nuts!!! I never thought sarah jessica parker was but she has personality to make up for it and a models body

itznia on

I am a total Gleek and I think she is absolutely gorgeous just as she is!!

BBB on

To be honest, before even reading this my eyes instantly focused on her nose. It’s always been a distraction for me when I watch her on Glee or see her in articles. So maybe she can “make it” with the nose, but it’s still quite the distraction.

Marie on

Not pretty. Sorry.

victoria smith on

I believe they told Barbara the same thing and look at her now!!!!!

Sydney on

Lea is an awesome talented girl who is amazing so whatever anyone else says,they don’t know what they’re talking about because GLEE is the best show ever!!! GO GLEE!!!!!

LLB on

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with her nose or her looks!! She deserves kudos for her talent and being proud of who she is. There are enough actresses with a lot less talent who have gone under the knife only to have it backfire on them because they no longer fit their look (Jennifer Grey, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Simpson to name a few).

Kasee on

Um, for the people saying she is a flash in the pan, she has been on Broadway since she was a little girl. Ever hear of a show called Spring Awakening? I love how people assume that because they have never heard of something, it didn’t exist or matter!

Daisy on

I don’t watch Glee, but I think Lea Michele is quite talented and attractive in a unique way. If she got a nose job, she’d look like every other starlet. And all of you people who keep saying she should get a nose job would be the first in line to bash her for actually doing that. You’d be talking about how shallow she was and how she looked better with her real nose.

Crystal B on

I would love to see Lea as the next Elfe in Wicked. She has the look and the voice!!!

tori on

Lea is gorgeous and has so much talent!
I love her on Glee, and when she leaves, I wish her the best of luck in whatever she does.

Ania on

I don’t really mind the nose, it’s just that her other facial features aren’t that remarkable. Same with Barbara Streisand. Their face is unremarkable because of their other features, not their nose. Lea Michele did have a slight nose tweaking, subtle enough to be almost unnoticeable, but it’s still there. She is an egotistical liar. Her singing’s pretty, although her acting lacks subtlety and depth.

Erin on

I don’t watch Glee but Lea is very attractive and seems like a nice person.

suzyQ on

Ugh. She sounds so self-absorbed. Just take the focus off your looks and do your job and be glad that you have one, Lea.

krystal on

she looks like Natalie Portman in the magazine cover… very beautiful young woman.

hailey on

I think she’s pretty.

Sarah on

I Love Lea! The Harper’s photo shoot looks amazing! Good for her. She is incredibly talented and beautiful and deserves her success. I hope we see a LOT of her in the future and I hope she never lets the haters bring her down.

JJ on

I applaud her for making a career based on actual talent and not caving to the Hollywood pressure to look perfect. I don’t think she sounds self-absorbed. She has a gift, she’s aware of it, and she wants to use it. What’s wrong with that?

Stacy on

Nose job? i never would have even noticed that her nose was supposedly weird until this article, and i still cant see anything weird about it.

Pseudonym Withheld on

I don’t particularly care for “Glee” that much, but I won’t say anything derogatory about it because other people do like the show and I do not want to talk negatively about their taste in television shows. That aside, I find Lea Michele physically attractive, and I don’t think anybody should tell another person that they are not “pretty enough”. Those managers should have used more tact and said they are looking for someone with a different kind of look than you have because saying that you don’t make a judgement on someone’s look as good or bad, just right for a role or wrong for it.

david on

Lea you go girl!!!! Lets look at the facts. She now thinks well enough about herself to acknowledge, that she indeed is able to be, and being beautiful, own her own destiny, despite being told she wasn’t good enough. She isn’t taking stardom for granted. LOL Lindsay, Paris.. I for one thinks Glee is a nice diversion for those that can now say , YES. I’m deserving of good things because I have the gusto to put myself out there. As well as being who I was meant to be!!!! Positive!!!!

dfdf on

Who is this person? and, yes, she isn’t pretty.

Joe on

I think she is very pretty, and an amazing singer.

Elle on

I am a HUGE Gleek and I like Lea, but I have to agree with a few of you. I think she is a pretty girl and has an amazing voice, but I follow her on twitter and it’s like she is ALWAYS playing Rachel Berry. She talks like she is Rachel Berry after a few Tony wins as an adult. I love seeing her on the show and I wonder how it will be when she leaves, but I hope she doesn’t let her ambitions eat her alive. I wish her much success and hope to see more of her in Hollywood.

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Lea Michele: "Volevano che mi rifacessi il naso!" | buonaguida.com on

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julie on

I have to agree that she is not pretty enough for fame, but she is pretty in that average girl kind of way which makes her more believable in the part she plays. If she were an over the top beauty no one would believe she was a high school girl.

Kim on

Lea is a very attractive girl who doesn’t fit the “perfect” mold. We need more celebrities like her. To those hating on her and Glee..if you don’t like her, don’t click on stories about her. And as for Glee..nobody forces you to watch it..which you apparently have if you’ve formed an opinion about it. DUH!

Lori on

Not pretty enough? Get a nose job? Hummm… who does that sound like? Barbra Streisand maybe? Glad she ignored everyone (like Streisand) and is making her own path. She has an awesome voice. Not likely to be heard on the radio, but DEFINITELY Broadway.

christa on

Keep on milking it.

Booo on

MrsJP has a right to her opinion and you don’t know what she looks like so all of you need to pipe down. I’m a Glee fan and I’m not offended. I’m so sick of folks always jumping on someone they don’t know over some other folks they don’t know on these boards. Get a life. Your fake outrage just because someone doesn’t agree with your tastes is very telling of your mental capacities. “…the worst Are full of passionate intensity.” – YEATS

Tiera on

I think that she did prove them wrong being that her talent is speaking for her rather than her looks that is the point. Some people looks speak louder than their talent. And whats with her being seen as a diva? Is that based off of her tv character or “reports.”

Tammy on

I don’t think she’s pretty but who says you need to be pretty to be a actor/performer? I wish more normal looking people with normal weights should be in the spotlight.

Guest on

Sorry but are we supposed to feel sorry for her? She is not the first person to struggle in Hollywood…….

Carlie on

She’s beautiful! It’s a shame that people in the USA are so shallow that they can’t see the beauty of real women. Instead, they push the snub-nosed, big-breasted, nipped & tucked & botoxed glamazons as being beautiful. The media is just as guilty, pick up any magazine.

MK on

@Tammy that’s an oxymoron. You don’t like how she looks, yet you wish more “normal” people would be in the spotlight. Duh.

Pami on

I wish she would stop telling the world over and over again “how some said she would not make it because of her looks.” It’s like her ego is going to show the world how wrong they were. Yes, they were wrong, move on! Although, she will never be the pretty one, she is still an attractive women with a great voice. Remember Mischa Barton – She exploited her fame and now… Mischa… who?

Angela on

Love her! I wish her all best and continued success. She has a great voice and so talented.

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MB on

And again, Lea Michele goes on and on about how talented and amazing she and her career are. Your ego is as big as your nose, honey. You’re not Idina Menzel. You’re not Barbra Streisand. Sit the eff down.

SC on

Why doesn’t this girl’s publicist tell her to shut her mouth?! It’s always about the nose, NOSE, NNOOOSSSEEE!!!! Enough, Lea, we get it, you “struggled” and “conquered” Hollywood without changing yourself (though, I do have doubts that she might have had a teensy bit of tweaking done to the schnoz despite her claims). Even the prettiest actresses are at some point pressured to “refine” their looks to boost their careers. Some do, some don’t. It’s nothing new. I’m happy for her success. But I don’t think she has a phenomenal voice, acting talent or personality, from how she seems to come across in the media. She’s nothing too special. Oh, and her HB cover has been PHOTOSHOPPED for those of you who somehow think she looks like Natalie Portman. You all might also want to invest in a pair of glasses.

Nicole on

She wouldn’t be so different and amazing if she had a nose job. her nose makes her her

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Lizzie on

I think she’s beautiful and she’s got a voice to match.

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