Lea Michele Wants To Change Your Life

Since Lea Michele of Glee fame picked up journaling (during her days starring on Broadway in Spring Awakening), she has stuck with the practice. Now, she wants to share it with you. Michele's guided journal, You First: Journal Your Way to Your Best Life, comes out tomorrow — the same day her new show, Scream Queens, premieres. The book shows readers how to tackle fitness, healthy eating, personal goals, and relationships through the power of the (private) written word. "I want this to be a space where you shut up all the noise," Michele stresses, "and you take time to just listen to yourself."

The 29-year-old is no newcomer to show business (at the tender age of eight, she played Cosette in Les Misérables on Broadway), but her transition from stage to small screen has not been all high notes. Even after Michele scored her first TV role, as the high-maintenance-but-good-hearted diva Rachel Berry on Glee, "people were telling me what I could and couldn't achieve based on my looks and ethnicity," Michele tells us. "I started journaling to really have a safe space to write down my goals." We spoke with Michele about her new book, Scream Queens, how Broadway prepared her for Hollywood, and why she won't give up her L.A. lifestyle anytime soon.
Hi, Lea, thanks for chatting with me today.
"I have to tell you that Refinery29 is a constant on set at Scream Queens. Emma [Roberts] introduced me to your horoscopes section... I never was into that stuff, but Emma was like 'Oh, if you’re going to read horoscopes, you have to check Refinery’s'... Now, it’s like we can’t stop."
Thank you! I'm with you there — I never read my horoscope before I started working here. Tell me more about life on the set of Scream Queens.
"It’s been really incredible. We’re having the best time. We're all living in New Orleans right now, [and] we’re away from our friends and our family — I love my home and I love being around my family, so having this show that’s filming in another city has really expedited our bonding process and allowed us to just focus on this show and each other. I think it’s going to be incredible. The scripts are so funny, and I just can’t wait for everyone to see it."
With a new book out tomorrow, you've been busy. You First focuses on the power of journaling — what has it done for you?
"My journaling started out as being very goal-oriented and writing down dreams... The more I wrote down, the more I made things happen, and I believe it’s a combination of the energy that’s put into writing things down and manifesting your dreams as well as having this space that makes you be accountable to yourself. So, that accountability really lights the fire in me to make things happen... I wanted to have this next book, after Brunette Ambition, be about journaling, and have this workbook for my fans and readers to see what they can make out of it, and see what journey it takes them on."
Having a safe space to express yourself seems especially important when so many of the stories we tell about ourselves are for a social media audience.
"We live in a world where there are so many voices in our heads... [With this book], you turn off your phone and you turn off your television...and listen to the voice inside of you. For me, I was so intimidated by the thought of blank pages... Having these prompted questions decreases that intimidation factor, and it also helps you to ask yourself questions that you may not otherwise ask."
In You First, you write about how you take better care of your body than you did before. What prompted that shift?
"Well, I come from New York, and I’ve worked on Broadway my whole life, so I was always very active and I never really had an issue or an unhealthy relationship with food or my weight. When I moved to Los Angeles, despite having healthier food in L.A. and fresher produce, I started gaining weight. I didn’t realize how much, in New York, I was walking around and being active — and then switching to a lifestyle of being in [a] car and driving everywhere.

"I think it was really at that moment, for me, where I said, Okay, I have this awesome opportunity to now be in a gorgeous city that has access to hikes and the ocean and awesome forms of working out as well as fresh produce... From that moment on, I was like, Okay, I’m going to do this... Because L.A. can also be very intense, taking care of myself is a huge part of my job...because it allows me to feel good and be happy and get through whatever ups and downs come my way...because I personally feel physically and mentally strong.

"I was just in New York, and all I kept saying to my family was, 'I don’t think I could live in New York full-time anymore.' It's so crazy; I've switched to becoming such a California girl."

How did you handle the jump from Broadway to TV?
"I’ve juggled my fair share of naysayers, from pre-TV...to now being in Hollywood and working on television. Theater is in no way comparable to the life of living in Los Angeles, but I think it was sort of the best preparation for Glee and having that quick success... Broadway is the hardest thing in the entire world, and the most amount of credit should be given to those actors that are performing eight shows a week. [Doing that], you get a really thick skin. You really learn that it’s all about the performance. It doesn’t matter if the person in the front row is sleeping, it doesn’t matter if they walk out — you still have to do your best.

"So coming from that background into the quick success of Glee and the quick education of this business was, I think, the best preparation. It’s obviously shocking when your life changes, and all of a sudden, people are writing things about you and saying things about you. The fact that they care so much is confusing, but I think that, over the years, I’ve just done my best to use this platform that I’ve been given in as much of a positive way as possible. [I try to] focus on my job and [on] continuing to make my space as strong and safe as possible, with the greatest circle of people around me to protect [me from] whatever may come my way."

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